Because lung cancer counts as the primary cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., many people automatically think of it as a terminal disease and give up all hope of recovery. However, the right knowledge and treatment strategies can help you fight back. Take the following actions if you have reason to worry about lung cancer.
Understand the Condition
Lung cancer can take a variety of forms. The two main types of lung cancer include small cell and non-small cell cancer. Small cell lung cancer represents only a minority of lung cancer cases, but it grows and spreads more quickly than non-small cell cancer. Doctors also associated small cell cancer more closely with smoking.
These two categories can each include several specific varieties of cancer-based on their cell type and where they tend to form. For instance, adenocarcinoma develops on the outer areas of the lungs, while squamous cell cancers form toward the center.
Respond to Telltale Symptoms
Some lung cancers don't give you any advance warning in the form of symptoms. Periodic physical exams can help your doctor identify lung cancers at these early stages. Once you start experiencing symptoms of lung cancer, you need to get the issue evaluated and diagnosed immediately instead of waiting.
Common symptoms of lung cancer include unexplained shortness of breath, a chronic cough that may produce blood, wheezing, and chest pain. You may also experience trouble swallowing, facial swelling, hoarseness, loss of appetite, trouble swallowing, and significant weight loss.
Treat the Condition Promptly and Aggressively
Early, aggressive treatment can give you the best chance of surviving lung cancer, especially if you have non-small cell lung cancer. If the cancer remains confined to parts of a single lung, surgery might even eliminate the threat completely. Your oncologist might shrink the lesion with radiation first if necessary.
If your cancer has already grown more severe or spread to other areas, as often occurs in small cell lung cancer, then your lung cancer care program may focus on a combination of radiation and chemotherapy. The radiation attacks the lung lesions while the chemotherapy kills cancer cells throughout your body.
Keep Your Followup Appointments
Once you've completed your lung cancer treatment, you'll want to continue reporting for scheduled follow-up evaluations. These evaluations can monitor your recovery and check for any signs of a recurrence that might call for additional treatment. You may need up to four exams during the first year, with less frequent exams to follow.
People can and do conquer lung cancer, so don't treat your diagnosis as an automatic death sentence. Fight back by following the steps noted above and taking an active role in your own health and well-being. Reach out to a local service provider to learn more about lung cancer care.