Lung cancer is a cancer that begins in lung cells. This is not the same thing as cancer begins elsewhere and spreads to the lungs. Initially, the main symptoms occur in the respiratory system. In the later stages of lung cancer, especially if it spreads in distant areas, it can affect many of your body systems.
Lung cancer can affect more than your lungs. Once you have tumors in the lungs, cancer cells can rupture and form new neoplasms or if unbearable tumor cells enter the lymphatic system or bloodstream, they can travel to other parts of the body. This process is called metastasis. Lung cancer tends to spread to:
- Lymph gland
- Adrenal gland
Lung cancer initially affect only the lungs and respiratory system. Other symptoms vary depending on where the cancer migrates.
As cancer cells in the lungs split and multiply, they form tumors. Over time, new tumors may grow nearby in the lungs or membranes around the lungs. The membrane around the lungs is called the pleura. It can also spread to the airways and chest wall.
It is not unusual to have no symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer. In the early stages, lung cancer is not easily seen on chest x-ray. At first, you may notice some respiratory symptoms. Often bronchitis or pneumonia attacks can be a sign of lung cancer. You can also see other changes in your voice. You can develop persistent or repeated cough. An intense cough can produce mucus. As the disease develops, the mucus may change color or there is blood in it.
A severe cough can cause sore throat and chest. Chest pain may worsen as you breathe or cough. A common symptom of advanced lung cancer is lack of breath. You can blow or hear other sounds as you breathe. While cancerous tumors begin to block the airway, breathing becomes more difficult. Fluids can accumulate around the lungs. When this happens, your lungs cannot fully develop as you breathe. Even mild physical activity can be the tension of your breath.
The circulatory and cardiovascular system
Carcinogenic cells from the lungs can enter the bloodstream. The circulatory system is a way of spreading cancer from the lungs to other organs. If you cough up blood, it’s possible that the tumor in your airway is bleeding. If bleeding is severe, treatments are available to control it. Treatment may include palliative radiation or bronchial artery embolization. In arterial bronchial embolism, doctors use a catheter to locate and block the hemorrhagic artery. If you have lung cancer, you are at high risk for blood clots. A blood clot that moves into the lungs is called pulmonary embolism. This is a potentially life-threatening event.
This does not happen often, but lung cancer can spread to the heart or pericardial sac. The pericardial sac is the tissue around the heart. Cancer treatments, such as radiotherapy, can be toxic to heart cells. Heart damage can be seen immediately, but it sometimes takes years to be detected.
Immune system and excretion
The cancer can metastasize from the lungs entering nearby lymph nodes. Once in the cells the lymphatic system can reach other organs and form new tumors. Burns and lumps around the clavicle, neck or armpits may be caused by cancer in the lymph nodes. You may also notice swelling of your neck or face. Some types of lung cancer cause hormone-like substances into the bloodstream. It can also cause problems with other organs. This is called “paraneoplastic syndrome”.
One of the common sites for the spread of lung cancer is the liver, which can cause itching. Symptoms of jaundice include yellowing of the skin and white eyes. Another symptom of cancer in the liver is the pain on the right side. Feeling bad after eating rich foods is another symptom. Your doctor may use a blood test to find out more about heart health.
Other common symptoms of cancer include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Common weakness
Lung cancer often spreads to the adrenal glands but does not always cause symptoms. Hormonal fluctuations can make you feel weak and dizzy and can cause weight loss. Your doctor may use an imaging test to look for cancer in the adrenal gland.
Causes of lung cancer
One of the main causes of lung cancer is smoking and exposure to asbestos. If you live in a Adelaide house built before the 1980’s, there is a high chance that it contains asbestos. You should get an asbestos testing service in Adelaide to make sure that you are safe from the risk of asbestos exposure. Also, if you work in a site that works closely with asbestos you are also in high risk of developing lung cancer.