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Understanding Lung Cancer

Most of us know someone who has either survived or succumbed to cancer. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States (2015). Though there are many types of cancer, the most common affects the lungs. In Understanding Lung Cancer: An Introduction for Patients and Caregivers, Dr. Naheed Ali states, “Of all the cancers worldwide, lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed, and its incidence still grows” (Ali, 2017). Those who have been diagnosed with lung cancer suffer from many devastating side effects, including fatigue, depression and pain. Poor management of the symptoms and effects leads to a critical impact on the emotional well-being of an individual.

Lung cancer usually begins with tissues of the lung. It impacts the lining of the cell passages. Some are also caused by exposure to smoke or radiation. Or any other cancer-causing radiation.

Stress, anxiety and depression are common to almost all illnesses, but evidence suggests it is the most extremely found in patients suffering from lung cancer. Other less extreme effects include a cough that doesn’t completely go away, some blood clots in the cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and often headaches, etc. Although the effects are similar in all patients, the level varies from one person to another based on their level of cancer and health conditions (Ellis, 2012).

It begins with the loss of appetite. It may occur because of slight taste or smell changes. The management is simple: you should eat food at room temperature, use food supplements to retain energy, not drink beverages and let others fix your meals and meal timings. Shortness of breath is common, as during cancer, you cannot get enough air to reach your lungs. Try very light exercise to prevent this, quit smoking immediately, sleep with an elevated head position, use a humidifier or oxygen supply and lastly, drink lots of liquid to manage the side effects.

You may have an excessive feeling of exhaustion and tiredness. It may occur because of the above-mentioned two effects. It can only be dealt with with rest, mind relaxation and counselling. Nausea and vomiting are common effects of any cancer but are enhanced with lung cancer. It can be done by avoiding intake of bland, spicy, seasoned, greasy or fried foods. You should take a light walk after every meal so the food is well digested. It may include trouble in swallowing because of air passage irritations. You can prepare or have prepared soft meals that are easy to eat and digest.

Lung cancer makes its way into the bloodstream. It starts with impacting the respiratory system and goes on to impact the circulatory and cardiovascular systems. It is the reason why some people cough up blood. Entering the nearby lymph nodes can affect your immune and excretory systems. It is the reason why a lesser dosage of medicines sometimes does not have any valuable impact. The immune system is damaged, and intake of a higher dose of medicine may harm the liver. If not managed, it may end up impacting your central nervous system. It may lead to Horner’s syndrome, which affects the nerves of the face. The same cancer, if spread to bones, affects your muscular activity. Your skeletal muscle, if affected, impacts your talking, mobility, and chewing. It may also spread to adrenal glands, which may cause hormonal fluctuations and severe mood swings.

These were the physical effects of lung cancer. But cancer is a disease that goes beyond your physical and mental distress. If not managed properly, it breaks you down emotionally and may cause prolonged disorders of depression. Patients constantly suffer from fear, anger, anxiety and a constant feeling of uselessness.

A new support has to be found. Patients need to talk to somebody who is usually not emotionally related to them. They need to vent their fear and feelings. Sometimes, a piece of foreign advice works like a charm. A caregiver’s perspective and management can make the process go smoothly. A new normal has to be set. It requires changes in lifestyles and routines. Changing what you used to do as a full-time mother or a student can be very challenging and hard.

It is very important that as soon as cancer is identified, psychological support is called for. The management of lung cancer is more emotional than medical. This is because, medically, it is possible for us to reach out to doctors for effective medicines, but usually, the psychological and mental distress goes untreated. Cancer may disappear, but mental illness goes a long way in affecting your daily life. It is necessary that as soon as the medication starts, the effects of cancer and cancer treatment are taken into account. The effects are to occur, and the symptoms are already present by the time you identify the cause (cancer) (Yamin-Garone, 2014). They should be managed timely so the symptoms and effects of cancer and its treatment (therapy) do not get worse. If it is not managed in time, the cancer remains one problem, and the emotional illness becomes another one. Taking medications for both may be even more harmful than cancer alone.

However, if diagnosed earlier, lung cancer is reversible and can be treated with mere medication with no severity of symptoms or effects that may impact the body and mind.

Works Cited

Ali, N. (2017). Understanding Lung Cancer 7th edition.

Ellis, J. (2012). The impact of lung cancer on patients. Chronic Respiratory Disease, Vol9, Issue 1.

Report: Cancer Remains Leading Cause of Death in U.S. Hispanics. (2015). http://pressroom.cancer.org.

Yamin-Garone, M. (2014). How Does Lung Cancer Affect Your Body? Live Strong Healthline.

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