November is Lung Cancer Awareness month, but this isn’t something we should be talking for just one month. In the U.S. there are close to 10,000 Hispanic people that will get lung cancer this year—the most common cancer & killer among Hispanics.
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The leading cause of lung cancer is smoking. “I always describe cancer as cells that have gone bad,” explains Dr. Patricia Thompson, Medical Director of Thoracic Oncology & Medical Oncologist at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Southeastern Regional Medical Center. “With lung cancer, lung cells go bad, so the bad ones take over and eventually when left untreated or treated too late, it can cause patients to die.”
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Unfortunately most lung cancers do not cause symptoms until they have spread too far to be cured, but there are symptoms that occur in the early stages, such as:
• A cough that does not go away or gets worse
• Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
• Weight loss and loss of appetite
• Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
• Shortness of breath
• Feeling tired or weak
• Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
• New onset of wheezing
“Lungs have no nerve endings, so you don’t feel pain in the lungs–if you feel pain, it’s something outside the lungs,” explains Dr. Thompson. Unexplained weight loss is a common symptom among most cancers and if you are losing weight without trying or losing it too fast, it might be time to see your doctor.