Symptoms of Lung Cancer
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The symptoms of lung cancer ranges from a mildly irritating chronic cough that is no more than a nuisance, to severe difficulty of breathing that makes each breath a monumental task. The variety of symptoms depend on the stage of the disease.
The symptoms of lung cancer in its early stage may be very mild, or even non-existent. Symptoms are not felt during the early stage because the tumor is too small to impair the process of breathing, or irritate the airway.
Symptoms similar to respiratory tract infection may appear when the tumor grows bigger. A chronic cough, or mild chest pain when coughing, may be felt. These symptoms are easy to ignore, as many tend to do, because they (symptoms) are not alarming, and certainly not seen as life-threatening.
The cough or mild chest pain may go on for several months and, gradually, the symptom of difficulty of breathing becomes apparent. This may begin as paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (PND), or the sudden waking at night, catching ones breath. PND will progress to orthopnea, or the difficulty of breathing when lying flat on bed, needing several pillows to breath easily.
Orthopnea will worsen until breathing can only be done when sitting or standing, but never when reclining. The progression of the difficulty of breathing usually coincides with the gradual loss of lung function, mainly due to the accumulation of fluid around the lung. The fluid causes the lung to slowly deflate until the entire lung collapses and the space once occupied by the lung becomes filled with fluid.
The breath that comes easily to the healthy, and which we take for granted daily, becomes a struggle for the person with lung cancer. The easy entry of air filling the healthy lung becomes an exhausting process of forcing air into a collapsing lung, made so by the combination of fluid around the lung and cancer cells in its very fabric.
Lung cancer, when seen from the face of people who suffer from it, produces symptoms that are not worth the cigarette that caused them.