Lung cancer does not usually cause noticeable symptoms until its spread through the lungs or into other parts of the body. This means the outlook for the condition is not as good as many other types of cancer. About one in three people with lung cancer live for at least one year after they’re diagnosed and about one in 20 people live at least 10 years. However, survival rates vary widely, depending on how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis. Early diagnosis can make a big difference when dealing with the deadly condition and knowing the lesser known signs of lung cancer could save a life.
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Lung cancer, as with most cancers, spotted early will ensure a better treatment outcome.
However, lung cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms in the early stages and when it does, the symptoms may easily be confused with those for other conditions.
Having a cough is one of the more common warning signs but a lesser known sign is noticing swelling in this body region.
For a person experiencing puffiness in the face or neck it could be an early warning sign of lung cancer.
The puffiness is due to the superior vena cava [what is this?] being choked off by a tumour.
The blood from the upper parts of the body doesn’t have anywhere else to go. The face and neck may then swell from all the extra fluid that’s waiting to get through.
The puffiness may be accompanied by a bluish-red skin colour on the chest.
Tumours can often put pressure on blood vessels, not allowing fluids to travel as efficiently throughout the body.
The fluids then build-up causing the swelling of the face and neck. The condition is medically known as Superior Vena Cava Syndrome (SVCS) which refers to compression of one of the major veins that carry blood from the head, neck and upper chest region to the heart.
Lung cancer, along with other types of cancers and masses, is a common cause of SVCS.
In addition to a swelling of the face and neck, people with this lung cancer symptoms may notice difficulty breathing, shortness of breath or coughing.
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Other unusual signs of the deadly condition
If a person experiences pain in the shoulder or upper back it could mean early lung cancer.
The pain can result from a number of different processes.
Pain in the shoulder could be due to pressure from tumour on the phrenic nerve within the lungs.
Frequent pneumonia or other lung infections could also be a warning symptom of lung cancer.
People with lung cancer are at higher risk for developing pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs that can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi as well as other types of lung infections.
That is because tumour cells can trap infectious agents, inhibiting the body’s natural mechanisms for expelling them.
Treatment of lung cancer
Treatment depends on the type of mutation the cancer has, how far it has spread and how good a person’s general health is.
The NHS said: “If the condition is diagnosed early and the cancerous cells are confined to a small area, surgery to remove the affected area of lung may be recommended.
If surgery is unsuitable due to your general health, radiotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells may be recommended instead.
If the cancer has spread too far for surgery or radiotherapy to be effective, chemotherapy is usually used.”
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