What to Expect from Your Lung Cancer Journey

Lung cancer is often difficult to identify early. One of the reasons is, although there are two primary types of lung cancer, there are a range of subtypes, all of which affect people differently. Another reason is that symptoms often don’t appear until the disease has advanced. When there are symptoms present, they are general enough that they may be mistaken for other things. Your lung cancer journey begins with knowing if you are at risk for lung cancer and recognizing the symptoms. Awareness can ensure early diagnosis and treatment.

Risk factors

Smoking is the risk factor most-commonly associated with lung cancer. Smokers are at risk, but individuals who are exposed to second-hand smoke are also at risk. Although this is the most commonly associated factor leading to lung cancer, there are others. Individuals exposed to carcinogens and things such as asbestos or radon gas are also at risk, which is why firefighters, power plant workers, and construction workers have a higher chance of lung cancer. There is also an increased possibility of developing lung cancer if there are people in your family who have developed lung cancer.

Symptoms

An individual who has lung cancer may have a cough that is persistent. It’s common for individuals with lung cancer to cough up blood. One of the reasons that individuals may not realize this symptom is a sign of lung cancer is because a chronic cough can be associated with a number of other ailments such as bronchitis, heart cough, allergies, or asthma. Other symptoms of lung cancer can include back pain, fatigue, and neck swelling.

Testing

A Computerized Tomography (CT) scan is often the first step in diagnosing lung cancer. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may also be used. A lung cancer MRI can offer images of not only the lungs, but also the patient’s organs, which can be important if there are concerns the cancer has spread. CT scans are non-invasive and often associated with general screening for individuals who are at higher risk of developing lung cancer.

Treatment

Treatment options vary based on the type of cancer you have and the stage that it is in. When lung cancer is caught early, it may be possible to utilize different treatments. Surgery is an option because the cancer may not have grown or spread, so it may be possible to remove it physically. When surgery isn’t an option, though, patients can be treated through a number of methods, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Individuals may opt to supplement their treatment with dietary changes and alternative treatments, such as magnet therapy. Those who smoke will be advised to stop and may receive counseling to help them break the habit.

Expenses

Ideally, you turned to professional insurance guides before being diagnosed with lung cancer to ensure that you have reasonable premiums and qualify for insurance. In the event that you did not, it’s a good idea to seek professional insight on your insurance options as soon as possible. Lung cancer and treatment for lung cancer can result in an inability to work for periods of time, so it is a good idea to have disability insurance to mitigate the loss of income. Due to the tendency to diagnose lung cancer late in the disease the survival rates are not high. Only 19 percent of those who are diagnosed with this disease will survive for five years following their diagnosis. A good life insurance policy can also provide peace of mind, because you will know that your loved ones will be able to handle expenses if you pass away.

Reducing your risk

You may recognize that lifestyle or career choices have put you at increased risk of lung cancer. There are steps that you can take to reduce your risk. Treatments are available to help individuals stop smoking. Regular exercise is also a great way to strengthen your lungs and immune system. One of the reasons is because it helps remove bacteria from your lungs. Another way to combat the risk of lung cancer is to ensure you eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. Those who work around cancer-causing carcinogens should wear a face mask to limit their exposure.

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