Generally speaking, lung cancer occurs when there is a cell overgrowth in the alveoli, bronchioles, or bronchi. So, it is no surprise that the first symptoms involve the respiratory system. Things that happen to your body when you have lung cancer may include:
- Frequent bouts of pneumonia
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chest pain or tightness in the chestal region
- Coughing up blood
- Frequent fatigue
- Prolonged, persistent coughing or a cough that worsens with time
How Lung Cancer Affects the Body
Although this type of cancer originates in the cells of the lungs, its effects can be felt in other areas of the body once it begins to spread:
When affected, your voice may change completely, often becoming hoarse. The cancerous cell may also multiply, forming new tumors in the pleura, airways, chest walls, and around or within the lungs themselves. Shortness of breath is a common symptom, since the tumors may block your airways and cause difficulties in breathing. Furthermore, fluids may accumulate around the lungs, since the lungs cannot expand properly when you breathe in.
It is typical of cancerous cells to make their way into the bloodstream. When this happens, you may be at risk of developing blood clots. A blood clot that travels to the lungs (known as a pulmonary embolism) can lead to fatal results if not treated promptly, since it causes blockage in one or more pulmonary arteries.
Although it is quite rare, cancerous cells can break off and wander to the heart or the tissue surrounding the heart—known as the pericardial sac. When this happens, it quickly becomes a life-threatening situation, since chemotherapy and other cancer treatments that use radiation can destroy the cells of the heart and lead to severe damage.
Cancerous cells that enter the lymph nodes multiply and can even form new tumors. If someone has lung cancer, it is not uncommon to see swelling on the neck and face once the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes. There may also be noticeable lumps around the neck, collarbone, and in the armpits.
Lung cancer can spread to the digestive system and attack the liver. When this happens, you are likely to be diagnosed with jaundice. Jaundice is characterized by low bilirubin levels, which results in dark urine, vomiting, abdominal pain, itchiness, and a yellow tinge to the sclera and skin. You may experience pain on the right side of your body and nausea after eating rich foods.
If the cancer spreads to the brain and forms a tumor, you may experience intense headaches and other neurological problems. These symptoms include loss of coordination, sudden issues with balance, amnesia or other memory problems, changes in vision, unexplained seizures, and weakness, and numbness of the limbs.
Lung cancer can spread to the bones and result in fractured bones, intense bone and muscle pain, and overall weakness of the bones. To determine if the musculoskeletal system is affected by any cancerous cells, your doctor will order imaging tests to detect any abnormalities.
Reducing Your Risk of Lung Cancer
Considering what happens to your body when you have lung cancer, this is a disease that you obviously want to avoid if possible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can reduce your risk of lung cancer if you:
- Stop smoking. 90 percent of lung cancer deaths occur in cigarette smokers. So, the most proactive step you can take when trying to lower your risk is to quit smoking.
- Avoid second-hand smoke. When possible, stay away from smokers. Inhaling the smoke from their pipes, cigarettes, and cigars can put you at risk.
- Test for radon gas. You can buy a do-it-yourself kit or hire a professional to test your home for radon. This is very important, since it is one of the leading causes of lung cancer.
- Avoid carcinogens. In your home, workplace, and environment, make sure to avoid carcinogenic materials.
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Contacting Pintas & Mullins Law Firm
Were you diagnosed with lung cancer? Do you believe it is due to the negligence of an entity or another individual? A personal injury lawyer from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm may be able to help. Call us now at (800) 794-0444 to discuss your case with a member of our team for free. Depending on the details of your case, we may be able to recover compensation on your behalf and help you get the justice you deserve.