When it comes to lung health, there are many things that affect your lungs. Smoking is one of the most common causes of lung diseases. It’s estimated that smoking kills more than 7 million people around the world every year.
When you smoke, you are exposing your lungs to harmful chemicals and gasses. These chemicals and gasses can cause lung tissue to deteriorate over time. This can make it harder for your lungs to do the work they need to do and can cause scarring on the lungs.
When you smoke, your lungs develop scarring known as emphysema. As the scarring progresses, you may develop chronic lung disease. If you’re already at high risk for severe chronic lung disease, smoking can make your condition worse. If you have signs of emphysema, quitting smoking can help you slow down the progression of your lung disease and improve your overall health.
How Smoking Causes Lung Damage?
Smoking damages the lungs in two ways:
- It causes damage to the airways that connect your mouth to your lungs. This damage can cause you to cough more often and more forcefully. Smoking can also make your airways narrower, which is called emphysema.
- The chemicals that come from smoking can cause your lungs to become inflamed. As the inflammation increases, it causes scarring on the walls of your airways. This scarring can lead to your airways becoming stiff and narrow, which are called chronic bronchitis.
The combination of smoking and these two effects on your airways can cause lung disease to progress quickly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. It’s estimated that every year, about 35,000 people develop lung cancer.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lung Cancer?
The symptoms of lung cancer can include:
- A large cough that doesn’t go away
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain
- Bloody mucus
- A persistent cough that doesn’t go away
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- A fever or chills
- Unexplained weight loss
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor. Lung cancer can be treated and often goes away without treatment.
How Do I Know If I Have Lung Cancer?
To diagnose lung cancer, your doctor will first ask you about your symptoms and medical history. They may also order a chest X-ray or CT scan of your chest.
If you have lung cancer, your doctor will order a biopsy of your lung tissue so they can learn more about it. A biopsy is the process of removing a small amount of lung tissue for testing. They may also use a bronchoscopy to get a closer look at your lungs.
What Are The Treatment Options for Lung Cancer?
Most lung cancers are treated with surgery. You may also be treated with radiation before or after surgery.
The type of treatment you will receive will depend on:
- The type and stage of the cancer
- Your age and overall health
- Your personal preferences and beliefs
In some cases, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure because of the size and location of the cancer. This may include:
- A modified radical resection: This is a type of surgery that removes the tumor and some surrounding tissue.
- A lobectomy: This procedure involves removing the entire lobe of your lung. This is the most common type of lung cancer surgery.
- A pneumonectomy: This procedure involves removing both lungs.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer. If your doctor diagnoses you with lung cancer and recommends chemotherapy, you may have local or regional chemotherapy. Local chemotherapy is administered directly into the tumor. Regional chemotherapy is given into the lining of your chest. This is called the bronchial tree.
Radiation is also called radiation therapy. This treatment can be used to kill cancer cells. If your doctor recommends radiation, you may have:
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy: This is a type of radiation therapy that uses different doses of radiation to kill cancer cells.
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy: This is a type of radiation therapy that uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.
How Do I Manage My Cancer?
- Be treated with surgery
- Be treated with chemotherapy
- Be treated with radiation therapy
What Are The Complications of Lung Cancer?
- Pneumonia: This is an infection of the lungs. It may be caused by lung cancer, smoking, or other causes.
- Pneumothorax: This is when air gets into the space between your lung and the chest wall. It can also be caused by cancer, smoking, or other conditions.
- Pleural effusion: This is when fluid builds up in the space between your lung and the chest wall. It causes shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing.
- Pericardial effusion: This is when fluid gets into the space between your pericardium and the heart. It can cause an abnormal heart rhythm.
- Pleural effusions: This is when fluid builds up in the space between the lung and chest wall. It can cause shortness of breath.
- Pneumomediastinum: This is when air gets into the mediastinum. This is the area between your lungs and the chest wall.
- Empyema: This is when pus builds up in your lungs.
- Pulmonary embolism: This is when a blood clot blocks one of your arteries.
- Bilateral lung involvement: Your lungs are affected in this way.
What Is the Long-Term Outlook for People with Lung Cancer?
The outlook for lung cancer depends on the type and stage of the cancer. The five-year relative survival rate for all stages of lung cancer is about 20 percent. This means that about 20 percent of people who have lung cancer live for at least five years.
If your doctor diagnoses you with lung cancer and recommends treatment, it’s important to follow through with the treatment plan. You should also talk with your doctor regularly about your condition.
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