All about cancer (part 2)

Treatment Options for Cancer

Surgical removal of the tumour is usually the best treatment option if it is possible. Other options include chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which may be used on their own or in combination. The potential for the use of these treatments depends on many factors, including the type and location of the tumour, as well as whether and where else in the body the tumour has spread to. If radiotherapy or chemotherapy is used to treat a cancer along with surgery then this is called adjuvant chemotherapy or adjuvant radiotherapy.

Chemotherapy is medication that attacks cancer cells. Some forms can be given orally while others are given by injection into the blood vessels. There are different chemotherapy ‘cocktails’ used for different tumours. One of the main side effects of this treatment is a weakening of the immune system.

Radiotherapy is a treatment that uses beams of radiation to attack cancer cells. This is usually external to the body but recently, for prostate and breast cancers, radiation capsules are sometimes being placed inside the body to irradiate the tumour from the inside out.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer usually starts in the lining of the tubes that bring air into the lungs. Lung cancers are believed to develop slowly over a period of many years.

What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer usually does not show symptoms when it first develops, but symptoms often appear when the tumour begins growing. Each individual may experience symptoms differently.

A persistent cough is the most common symptom of lung cancer. Other symptoms include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Blood-streaked sputum or phlegm (spit)
  • Constant chest pain
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Recurring lung infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Unexplained fever
  • Low sodium levels, leading to confusion

Like all cancers, lung cancer can cause general symptoms such as loss of energy, fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, non-specific aches and pains, headaches and fractures. Direct pressure effects on large blood vessels or certain nerves near the lung can cause swelling of the neck and face or cause pain and weakness in the shoulder, arm or hand. Of course, some or all of these symptoms can be caused by many other conditions so make sure you consult your doctor for advice.

What Are the Main Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?

By far and away the most common cause of lung cancer is cigarette smoke. Heavy smokers are twenty-five times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers. The risk of lung cancer also applies to light smokers, who are ten times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers. Passive smoking, in other words breathing in someone else’s smoke, is also an increased risk factor for lung cancer.

Rarer causes of lung cancer include exposure to environmental carcinogens such as asbestos, arsenic or radon gas. The effects Viagra in Australia of exposure to these carcinogens can be much more lethal in smokers.

Smoking marijuana can result in even more tar getting to the lungs than cigarettes and is a recognised cause of lung cancer. As marijuana is an illegal substance, it is not possible to control whether it contains other harmful substances such as pesticides or other additives. Marijuana joints tend to be inhaled very deeply and smoked all the way to the end, where the tar content is the highest.

Chronic inflammation of the lungs such as from tuberculosis, some types of pneumonia and air pollution can also be potential risk factors for lung cancer.

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