It usually starts as a cough or shortness of breath. Chest pains follow. More signs and symptoms come. Each year, lung cancer kills 1.3 million people—the same as the population of Hawaii—making it the most common cause of cancer-related death (Lung Cancer Research Foundation, 2012). There are two main categories—non-small-cell and small-cell carcinoma—and several types of lung cancer, each having its own characteristics.
From early warning signs to stage IV bronchioloalveolar carcinoma, the following slides feature the causes, symptoms, types, and stages of lung cancer.
The easiest way to get lung cancer is to smoke tobacco. Even secondhand smoke increases your risk. Along with a family history, other risks to increase chances of developing lung cancer include:
- high levels of air pollution
- arsenic in drinking water
- radon gas
- exposure to cancer-causing chemicals like uranium, coal products, gasoline and diesel exhaust
With smokers, a cough is usually dismissed as just a cough. If it doesn’t go away or blood comes with it, it’s usually a sign of something serious. Wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pains are other ignored symptoms of lung cancer.
Other signs include loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness, fatigue, difficulty in swallowing, hoarse voice, joint pain, facial paralysis, drooping eyelids, or bone pain. Some of the signs are associated with less serious conditions, so it’s important to see your doctor if you are experiencing some of them.