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Metastatic Lung Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

By eHealthIQ
Reviewed: July 17, 2016

In most cases, cancerous cells form in one part of the human body. Such areas are commonly referred to as primary sites. Unlike other body cells, cancerous cells often break away, spreading to other body organs in the process. Such types of cancers are generally known as metastasis. Metastatic lung cancer is a medical condition, which occurs when cancer that develops in other body organs spread to the lungs.

Common Symptoms

Most people who fall victim to metastatic cancer often have no visible symptoms, more so during the early stages of infection. Common signs of extensive infection include persistent coughs, blood stained phlegm, severe chest pains, shortness of breath, wheezing at night, and drastic weight loss. Patients ought to seek treatment as soon as they start experiencing these symptoms. Regular checkup is similarly advisable because the condition can be detected early and controlled accordingly.

Diagnosis

Normally, physicians perform physical examinations whenever they suspect that patients have metastatic lung cancer. Diagnosis may include the use of X-ray technology to create detailed lung images, CT scans, lung needle biopsies, and bronchoscopy. The latter involves a detailed examination of the entire respiratory system to determine the presence of cancerous cells.

Treatment Options

The sole purpose of treating metastatic lung cancer is to curb the spread of the cancerous cells, and to get rid of any symptoms. There is a variety of interventions to choose from. The treatment plan chosen depends on a number of factors, which include the age, medical history, the tumor’s location, size and type, and the extent of spread.

Chemotherapy is the commonest treatment procedure. It often involves the use chemical treatments to destroy the malignant cells. Normally, it is a viable option when the cancer spreads to other body parts. Surgery is sometimes preferred particularly if a patient has had the primary tumor removed. Surgery is also common in cases where the cancer has only spread to a small area of the lungs.

There are also other types of treatment used in the treatment of metastatic lung cancer. These include radiation therapy, laser therapy and the use of stents. Radiation therapy uses high energy and intense rays to either shrink the tumors, or kill them altogether. Laser therapy on the other hand uses light beams of high intensity to destroy the cancerous cells. The use of stents and tiny tubes is an emerging technology, which works by keeping airwaves open. This controls breathe shortages, a common symptom of lung cancer.

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