Causes and Effects of Lung Cancer
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Published: Mon, 16 Jul 2018
Lung Cancer occurs when the cells within an organism undergo mutations that cause the cell not to perform their regular duties. The cancerogenous cell then goes through the process of mitosis and produces a tumor in the tissue. Cancerogenous cells reproduce very quickly, unlike healthy cells that “preserve a system of checks and balances on cell growth so that cells divide to produce new cells only when new cells are needed”. 1
According to cancerhelp.net, some of the symptoms that may suggest lung cancer are:
- dyspnea (shortness of breath)
- hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
- chronic coughing or change in regular coughing pattern
- chest pain or pain in the abdomen
- cachexia (weight loss), fatigue, and loss of appetite
- dysphonia (hoarse voice)
- clubbing of the fingernails (uncommon)
- dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).
Shortness of breath can be caused by the cancer growing in the airway. This can lead to accumulation of discharges, exposing people to pneumonia. A great deal of lung cancers have a a lot of blood going to the tumors and if the surface of the cancer is fragile this could cause the cancer to bleed into the airway and that results in blood being coughed out by the patient.
Tumors in the top of the lung may plague the local part of the nervous system, leading to a difference in sweating patterns, eye muscle problems, and muscle weakness in the hands.
Some of the symptoms of lung cancer such as fever, loss of appetite and weight, pain, etc are nonspecific; in the elderly. “In many patients, the cancer has already spread beyond the original site by the time they have symptoms and seek medical attention.” 2 About 10% of people that suffer from lung cancer do not present any symptoms when they find out they have the sickness; in most cases the patients find out they have lung cancer during chest radiography in routine checkups.
Lung cancer is probably the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the world. In the United States of America, lung cancer is the second most common cancer and the number one cause of cancer death in both men and women. Men have a higher chance of getting lung cancer because, as studies done by the smokers association show, “men smoke more than women do, but since women started smoking in larger numbers, more women are getting lung cancer.”3 Lung cancer incidence rates are similar among African-American and white women. Among men lung cancer occurs about 50% more frequently among African-American men than among white men. Lung cancer mortality rates among Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians/Pacific Islanders are significantly lower than rates among AfricanAmericans and non-Hispanic whites.
The geographic distribution of Lung Cancer shows marked regional variation. The disease tends to be most frequent in highly developed countries (HDC), and less common in least developing countries (LDC), especially Africa and South America. The low rates of lung cancer in LDCs are similar to United States rates in the 1930s, when rates of lung cancer were “under 5 cases per 100,000 for both sexes. In contrast, African-Americans in the United States, an epicenter of the disease, now experience lung cancer incidence rates that are among the highest in the world.”4 Lung cancer is begining to dicrease in LDCs, but the number of incidences has become incredibly high in HDC, specially the United Stated of America.
Treatment for lung cancer comes in various forms depending on how advanced the cancer is.
The most common treatment for cancer is chemotherapy, also called “chemo”. This treatment is used to treat early stages of cancer to get rid of any cancer cells that may be left behind after surgery and to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back, and in the advanced stage to destroy or damage the cancer cells as much as possible. Side effects of chemo are anemia, appetite changes, bleeding problems, constipation, diarrhea,fatigue, hair loss, infection, memory changes, nausea and vomiting, pain, swelling.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation such as X-rays,gamma rays, and charged particles to shrink cancerogenous tumors and get rid of cancer cells. The cells may receive radiation from a machine outside of the body, or through a device placed in the body near the cells. Radiotherapy damages the DNA of the cancer cells eliminating the disease. The cancer is eliminated as cells with unrepairable DNA demage stop replicating and die. The dead cells are then eliminated by the body’s natural process. This therapy can also harm non-cancer cells resulting in side effects.Some of the side effects include fibrosis, bowel damage Â which may cause bleeding and diarrhea, infertility and memory loss.
Cancer can be surgically removed from the body. This process is done by making an incision into the body and removing the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue to ensure that all of the cancer cells are removed. The surgeon could extract a lung partially or completely to ensure that the cancer has been taken away.
Environmental causes that can lead to lung cancer are the exposure to radon, air pollution and second hand smoking.
Radon oozes through the ground, and leaks into the atmosphere and our water supply. This dangerous chemical gets into homes through open doors and windows, cracked floors, or the foundation, and it can slowly build up in the home. Â Studies show that high levels of radon gas inside homes and other buildings increase the number of new cases of lung cancer and the number of deaths caused by lung cancer. “In nonsmokers, about 30% of deaths caused by lung cancer have been linked to being exposed to radon.”5
Secondhand smoke comes from tobacco products such as burning cigarettes, it also comes from the smoke that people using tobacco products exhale. People who inhale secondhand smoke are called passive smokers, and they are also exposed to the risk of getting lung cancer, but in smaller amounts than smokers.
Air pollution – mainly from vehicles, industry, and power plants – raises the chances of lung cancer in people exposed to it long term.
Avoiding the exposure to these risk factors, along with a well balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and lack of smoking, can help prevent lung cancer.
Cancer is caused by several environmental factors such as exposure to air pollution and radon; however, the main cause of lung cancer is still the consumption of nicotine, which is the main component of cigarettes. There are several lifestyles people can adopt that will reduce the risk of lung cancer. Choosing to live in open areas with minimum exposure to pollutants in the environment is one of them; if you add to that a life free of cigarettes accompanied by a healthy diet and regular exercise your risk of getting lung cancer will be dramatically reduced.
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