Lung cancer: Dr Amir describes the symptoms in February
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According to the NHS, lung cancer is the most common and serious type of cancer, affecting more than 43,000 lives every year. Part of what makes the disease deadly is the slow development of symptoms. This leaves a great number of cases undiagnosed until the disease is advanced. At this stage, doctors will consider several factors before determining whether the tumour can be surgically removed.
When the lung is inoperable it means that the disease can’t be removed with surgery, but there are treatments that can still prevent the tumour from growing at a rapid pace.
Several factors make cancer inoperable, including the type of lung cancer, the stage of the disease, and the location of the tumour.
WebMD states: “Symptoms like a nagging cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath often don’t start until lung cancer has spread.
“The lack of early symptoms is why many people aren’t diagnosed until their cancer is inoperable.”
Some less common signs include changes in the appearance of fingers, which may become curved or clubbed.
A person may also notice difficulty swallowing, wheezing, a horse voice, or swelling in the face and neck, according to the NHS.
The disease is often picked up from imagining during an X-ray, but a formal diagnosis can only be made after the tissue has been examined in a lab.
This is usually done with a bronchoscopy, which involves a thin tube with a light on the end that enables doctors to see inside the lung.
During the procedure, a doctor will likely remove a small piece of tissue which will be sent to a lab and examined to see if it’s cancer.
At this point, surgery tends to only be recommended if the lung cancer has remained localised and hasn’t spread to other parts of the body.
Sometimes, healthcare providers label a tumour inoperable because the risks of surgery outweigh those of other treatments.
Early-stage lung cancer is hard to detect, however, as symptoms rarely appear until the disease is advanced.
In fact, around 40 percent of lung cancer cases receive a diagnosis when the surgery isn’t recommended because it is too advanced.
Some types of cancer, labelled liquid cancers, are deemed inoperable by nature because they affect tissues dispersed throughout the body.
How to prevent lung cancer
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is accountable for up to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
Although most cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking, people who have never smoked can develop the condition too.
Exposure to other carcinogens like radiation therapy, radon gas, and asbestos are well-established risk factors for the disease.
The NHS advises: “If you smoke, the best way to prevent lung cancer and other serious conditions is to stop smoking as soon as possible.
“However long you have been smoking, it’s always worth quitting. Every year you do not smoke decreases your risk of getting serious illnesses such as lung cancer.”
Adhering to a healthy diet and exercising regularly can also boost the body’s natural defences against diseases like cancer.
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