8 symptoms that can possibly indicate the person has lung cancer


Though lung cancer is one of the major reasons of cancer related death among men and women worldwide, most of the deaths occur because of the late diagnosis and thus, the treatment initiates when the cancer is almost in the last stage. It therefore, becomes too late to cure the disease and save the life of the person.

It becomes helpful if the person knows about the reason about the physical problems they are facing. Apart from heavy coughing- which is the most common symptom of any respiratory problems, here are some symptoms which may indicate lung cancer-

Image credits- healthcareusp.com
Image credits- healthcareusp.com
  1. Hemoptysis

Hemoptysis – coughing up blood happens in many people who have lung cancer. It is one of the major symptoms of the disease. Even if the amount of coughed blood is very less, it is still a matter of concern.

  1. New cough

Newly occurred cough in a regular smoker or a person who has quit smoking is also a concern for lung cancer and should be treated accordingly.

  1. Continuous cough

This does not mean just a heavy cough; but a cough which is mild but still persists for a long duration of time. Many a times, it gets worse after a certain period and can be a symptom of lung cancer.

  1. Chest pain

In around one-fourth of the people, chest pain is a symptom of lung cancer. This pain is persistent, painful and dull.

  1. Hoarseness

Hoarse voice or wheezing is caused due to the blockage or inflammation in lungs and may be accounted to cancer.

  1. Short breath

Shortness of breath is generally a result of a blocked air flow in the lungs, collection of fluid around the lung which is also called – plural effusion, or sometimes, the tumor is spread throughout the lungs.

  1. Respiratory infections

Respiratory problems like bronchitis or pneumonia can signal towards lung cancer. It is common in the cases of non-smokers where the doctors treat the patient for bronchitis, pneumonia, or asthma before the actual problem is discovered.

  1. Unrelated to lungs

Along with the above symptoms, there are some that are not related to the respiration or lungs. E.g. Weight loss, loss of appetite, headaches, bone pain or fractures, blood clots. These symptoms are remotely associated with lung cancer, and therefore it is important to keep a check.

Bone pain and fractures is usually an indication of  Lung cancer metastasis i.e. the cancer has spread to the other parts of the body. It is usually at the sites of bone involvement. Lung cancer metastasis to brain usually causes number of neurological symptoms like headaches, seizures, blurred vision, altered thought process, or symptoms of stroke.

Testing identifies the risk factors even before any symptoms and hence proves very helpful.

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Risk factors of Melanoma Skin Cancer


Among many other types of cancer, skin cancer- and melanoma in particular is highly ignored type of cancer in India. Though it is as fatal as other cancers, very less is known and researched about it. The symptoms are very hard to find and thus, treatment further takes a longer time and it gets out of control. However, it is very important to know the risk factors of the disease. Let us take a look-

  1. Ultraviolet light exposure

UV rays exposure is considered as the major risk factor for melanomas. Exposure to harsh sunlight for a long time results in UV ray exposure. Even though UV rays are a very small part of sunrays, they damage the skin cells. When the damage affects the DNA of genes, they cause skin cancer.  Though not popular in India, sun lamps and tanning beds used for artificial tanned skin are also the sources of UV rays.

When there are frequent sunburns in an early age, it results into development of melanoma on chest and back.

Image credits - tipperarytinting
Image credits – tipperarytinting
  1. Weakened immune system

Healthy immune system is very important in fighting any diseases and overall well-being. However, people with weak immune systems because of certain diseases or treatments have increased risk of developing many cancers, like melanoma.

For example, when patients get an organ transplants, they are usually given medicines that help prevent them from rejecting the new organ. Those medicines weaken their immune system that increases their risk of developing melanoma. People infected with HIV also have an increased risk for melanoma.

  1. Family history of melanoma and genetic factor

If any of your close relative (first-degree) has suffered from melanoma, your risk of getting it is higher than the general population. Close relatives include – parent, siblings, or child. Almost 10% have a family history of melanoma out of all the cases of the disease. This can happen due to the common lifestyle shared among the family members or specific genetic mutations among the family line or combination of both the factors.

  1. Personal history of skin cancers or recurrence

Recurrence of melanoma affects about 5% of the total melanoma patients. It is possible than it occurs again after the first one has been treated. The people who earlier had other types of skin cancer also have an increased risk of melanoma.

Image credits – ascenddermatology.com
  1. Moles

A mole is a pigmented tumor. Babies are not usually born with moles; they often begin to appear in children and young adults. Most moles will never cause any problems, but a person who has many moles is more likely to develop melanoma.

Atypical moles (Dysplastic nevi) look a little like normal moles but also have a few characteristics of melanoma. They are usually bigger than the other moles and have abnormal size and/or shape. Dysplastic nevi is hereditery. Most dysplastic nevi never become cancer. People with above condition have highest risk of melanoma so it’s recommended that they go through regular skin check-ups.

Sometimes, congenital nevi are removed through surgery so the chance of those becoming cancer minimizes.

  1. Age factor

Older people are more likely to get melanoma; though it is also found among younger generation. It is one of the commonest cancers found in patients younger than 30 years of age. Usually, the hereditary melanoma occurs at an early age.

  1. Xeroderma pigmentosum

Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a rare condition that destroys ability of skin cells to repair their damaged DNA. It is inherited. People with this condition have a greater risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers when they are young, especially on sun-exposed areas of their skin.

Preventive tests like Hereditary screening panel can help to detect the risks of melanoma.

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Causes of ovarian cancer you should definitely know about


“I think cancer helps to transform a person… It affected me so much that it enabled me to grow, appreciate life and honor my body.” Says Manisha Koirala, while talking about her ovarian cancer that was diagnosed in 2012. There is very less awareness about ovarian compared to the breast cancer in India. Ovarian cancer affects the ovaries of women and most of the times; the increase in abdominal area is looked over. The symptoms are very hard to see and non-specific. Thus, the diagnosis happens at a stage when the cancer is hard to treat.

There are some early signs of ovarian cancer; like these mentioned below –

  • Pain and pressure in abdomen and it’s bloating.
  • Having trouble while eating and feeling full shortly after eating.
  • Increased urge of urinating and increased frequency.

Above symptoms do not necessary mean that the cancer is present, however, it is recommended to get the checkup done if those persist for more than a month.

Now let us see some common causes attributed to ovarian cancer.

Image credits - topinfopost.com/
Image credits – topinfopost.com/
  1. Inherited faulty genes

Most of the ovarian cancers are due to the genetic changes that occur in woman’s body during her lifetime and not necessarily inherited. Around 1 in 10 ovarian cancers are result of inherited gene mutation. These genes include BRCA1 & BRCA2 which are also responsible for increased risk of breast cancer.

The risk of developing ovarian cancer is more if you have close relatives (mother, sister, or daughter) who had ovarian or breast cancer. However, if they were less than 50 years of age at the time of cancer diagnosis, it is possible that their cancer was because of inherited faulty genes.

There are many genetic tests available which help to know your genetic make-up and family history. It also detects your risk for ovarian cancer.

  1. Previous breast cancer

Sometimes, same set of faulty genes is responsible for breast as well as ovarian cancer. i.e. women who earlier had breast cancer have more risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to general women population. If the diagnosis of breast cancer was before 40 years of age, the risk is four-fold.

If you had breast cancer before 40 and have a family history of ovarian cancer, you have 17 times the average risk of ovarian cancer.

If you think you may have a faulty gene, you can speak to your GP. There is more information about screening for ovarian cancer in this section.

  1. Fertility treatment

Some studies have linked fertility drugs to an increased risk of ovarian cancer, but recent studies do not support this. But there is a risk of ovarian tumours in infertile women who have been treated with IVF; however, infertility increases the risk of ovarian cancer more rather than its treatment.

  1. Hormone replacement therapy

Combined HRT is considered as one of the causes for ovarian cancer. A study observed that women using HRT for a few years were having more risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who had never used it. The risk is very low compared to the other causes.

  1. Using IUD

IUD means intra uterine device. It is one of the birth control measures used by females. A study has shown that women who use a coil (IUD) have an increased risk of ovarian cancer, but the risk is still small.

  1. Physical conditions

Checking BMI (Body Mass Index) in regular intervals is important. BMI shows if you are obese or underweight compared to your height. A study in 2008 stated the risk of being overweight for premenopausal & postmenopausal women. It was observed that premenopausal women with more than 30 BMI had a risk of ovarian cancer, but postmenopausal women had none. It is also found in a research that taller women have more risk of ovarian cancer than shorter women.

  1. Endometriosis

Research has shown that women with endometriosis have an increase in their ovarian cancer risk compared to women who do not. Endometriosis is a disease in which a tissue that generally grows inside the uterus grows outside it.

Smoking is one of the reasons of ovarian cancer. Image credits - archives.deccanchronicle.com
Smoking is one of the reasons of ovarian cancer.
archives.deccanchronicle.com
  1. Smoking

It is a proven fact that smoking causes many hazards- including lung cancer. However, it also has a role in ovarian cancer. A research showed an increased risk of mucinous ovarian tumours in smokers. However, the risk was back to normal after the smoking was stopped.

  1. Diet factors

Though the effect of diet on ovarian cancer is not yet highly established, studies show that diet high in animal fats may lead to ovarian cancer.

Prevention tips

It is said that prevention is always better than cure. Thus, here are a few tips important for the prevention of ovarian cancer.

– High level of blood calcium level means increased risk of ovarian cancer- make sure to get it monitored regularly.

– Contraceptive pills reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in women and also protect them from the disease even 30 years after they discontinue the medication.

– Women with family history of any cancer should never ignore any of the above mentioned symptoms.

– Hysterectomy reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by about one-third.

No matter what, screening is absolutely important. It not just screens for the cancer but many other genetic disorders and also helps you to take the necessary measures.

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Chemotherapy – Not everything you know about it is true!


Battling cancer is a very scary experience- for patients as well as their family members. Many tests, multiple opinions, various course of treatments and so on. There are many options available but lack of knowledge leads to confusion and eventually, threat about the treatments. Chemotherapy is one of the most common treatments for cancer. However, there are still many patients and their near ones are reluctant to go for it because of many misconceptions. Here are some of the common chemotherapy myths busted.

  1. I must be critically ill if doctor has suggested chemotherapy.

That would have been true a few decades back when it could mean a very poor health condition. However, nowadays chemo is suggested as a supplementary treatment and given after a primary treatment e.g. surgery or a radiation therapy. It is usually suggested to prevent cancer recurrence.

  1. Chemo is a very hectic process.

Nowadays chemo drugs are given through various ways depending on the patients’ need and the condition. Most of the times, the drugs are given through a needle or a catheter. But it can also be given in a liquid or pill form which you can take at home.

  1. Everybody loses their hair.

This is one of the biggest fears anyone has while going through a chemo. However, it’s not really true. With latest chemo drugs, losing hair is becoming uncommon.  Hair loss happens due to the damaged hair follicles which, most of the time is a side effect of the chemo drugs. However, new medications are developed in a way to minimize this effect.

credits- thespiritscience.net/
credits- thespiritscience.net/
4. Chemotherapy only kills cancer cells.

In medical terms, chemotherapy is often referred as cytotoxic (cell-killing) treatment. These drugs are devised to hamper the growth of the cells by attacking their DNA that fosters their growth. However, these drugs also attack the cells which grow in irregular manner, which are not always cancer cells. Thus side effects are seen.

 5. Chemotherapy is same for all.

Chemotherapy is becoming more customized according to the patient’s needs. It is not a standard treatment. There are varieties of therapies used in combination with other medications. It is not a similar treatment for one and all. E.g. two men with lung cancer might not receive the same treatment.

6. Chemo causes high-level of nausea.

Earlier, it was very common amongst patients undergoing chemotherapy to experience nausea. It was one of the major side effects earlier. However, with new anti-nausea drugs like Zofron & Kytril, the symptoms are effectively controlled. It even allows patients to go home after the treatment unlike the earlier days when recovery time was needed.  It is recommended that patients should take meals at short intervals rather than traditional ‘three meals a day’ option

7. Chemotherapy is very painful.

Earlier, it was true. But chemotherapy drugs are so advanced now that there are very negligible or very less side effects- but pain is not the one of those. Nowadays it’s a rare case that patient is admitted to hospital for overnight stay after the treatment.

8. If I’m not sick, the chemo must not be working.

It is the mindset of some patients that if any treatment is not hurting/ causing pain to them; it is not effective. Not just chemo, but otherwise too. However, it is not true. Some people experience side effects of the therapy while others don’t. But lack of side effects does not mean that the treatment is not working.

credits- blogs.sheknows.com
credits- blogs.sheknows.com
9. I won’t be able to have children after chemotherapy.

Chemo can cause a huge effect on pregnancy and it is indeed a complicated decision whether to or not to conceive while receiving chemo. It can cause complications. It is not true that conceiving during chemotherapy is not possible. However, it is strongly recommended that you talk to your specialist about the options before starting the treatment.

10. Chemotherapy makes patient toxic.

The medications used in chemo are indeed very powerful and can prove toxic if not administered correctly. But that does not mean that it makes you toxic. Many people, out of ignorance think that the person undergoing chemo should use different rooms and toilets. That is not true. Chemo does not make patient untouchable.

It is always great to be well-informed. Especially when it concerns ours and our loved ones’ health.

 

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Metastasis – Making the fight against cancer tougher


Cancer in itself is a traumatizing phase in anyone’s life. However, it is more painful when the cancer recurs after the treatment. Cancer recurrence happens due to many reasons. Metastasis is one of those.

About Metastatic Breast Cancer

Sometimes, the cancer spreads to the other parts of the body which are far from the spot where it originated. When breast cancer metastasizes, it is also classified as Stage 4 breast cancer.  It usually spreads to the the lungs, liver, bones or brain. Metastasis is the name of the process by which cancer spreads to the other parts. The chances of metastasis are most amongst breast cancer. The risk of metastatic cancer varies from person to person. Even though cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is still treated as the original cancer. i.e. breast cancer spread to the lungs will still be considered and treated as breast cancer, not lung cancer.

 How does cancer metastasize?

Cancer usually metastasizes or spreads through one or more of the steps mentioned below-

  • Cancer cells invade healthy cells around them.

When the healthy cell is taken over by the cancer cells, it can replicate more abnormal cells and spread the cancer.

  • Cancer cells penetrate into the circulatory system.

Cancer cells travel through the walls of nearby lymph vessels or blood vessels. Sometimes, they get carried by the lymph system and the bloodstream to other parts of the body and it causes harm.

  • Cancer cells get stuck in capillaries.

Sometimes, cancer cells stop moving as they are lodged in capillaries at a distant location. There, they get divided then migrate into the surrounding tissue.

  • Micro metastases.

Micro metastases are the small tumors formed by cancer cells at the new location. This might make cancer cells spread.

Image credits - http://cache1.bioon.com/
Image credits – http://cache1.bioon.com/

Symptoms of Metastatic Breast Cancer

The symptoms of metastatic breast cancer vary depending on how far the breast cancer has spread and what type of tissue the new cancer growth has invaded. These symptoms may also vary depending on where the cancer has spread to.

Here are some common symptoms of breast cancer metastasis according to the various locations in the body.

Metastasis to the bone:

  • Bones that are more easily fractured or broken
  • Severe, progressive pain
  • Swelling

Metastasis to the brain:

  • Persistent, progressively worsening headache or pressure to the head
  • Vision disturbances
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Behavioral or personality changes

Metastasis to the liver:

  • Jaundice
  • Itchy skin or rash
  • Abnormally high enzymes in the liver
  • Abdominal pain, appetite loss, nausea, and vomiting

Metastasis to the lungs:

  • Chronic cough or inability to get a full breath
  • Abnormal chest X-ray
  • Chest pain

Apart from the above, other nonspecific systemic symptoms of metastatic breast cancer include fatigue, weight loss, and poor appetite.

If these symptoms are noticed in the breast cancer patient, be sure you talk with your physician.

Treatment of metastatic breast cancer is guided by many factors like characteristics of the cancer cells, location where the cancer has spread, its symptoms, and treatments used in past. This treatment is highly personalized and depends on the characteristics of cancer and tolerance of the patient. Side effects are also taken into consideration.

Today, many advanced treatments are available for metastatic breast cancer. Even though the treatments might not guarantee to cure the cancer completely, they definitely help to control it.

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