THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY DIAGNOSIS
If you are experiencing any (or a combination of) lung cancer symptoms, seeing your GP for a referral for medical imaging could be the difference between catching cancer early (when the rate of recovery is higher) and finding cancer at a later, more devastating stage. As the deadliest cancer in Australia, reaching out to your GP regarding lung cancer as soon as you notice symptoms can truly be a life-or-death decision.
KNOW THE SIGNS
Lung cancer can present differently for each person, but common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Changes to the voice (i.e. hoarseness)
- Chest pain
- Coughing or spitting up blood
- Chest infections that are recurring or last more than three weeks
- A new cough that doesn’t subside
- Enlarged fingertips
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained fatigue
Getting checked for lung cancer typically involves the following steps:
Your doctor will tailor your treatment based on the type of cancer, the stage, and prognosis of the lung cancer, etc.
- Targeted therapies
If you’ve got symptoms or have some of the risk factors, your doctor may refer you for medical imaging. Medical imaging helps your GP to get a better understanding of what is happening in your lungs. Typically for diagnosing lung cancer X-rays, CT scans, MRI or PET scans are used to see if there are any irregularities or growths in your lungs.
FACT OR FICTION
Fact! Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells within the lungs. When these abnormal cells grow and spread they can form tumors and majorly disrupt the normal functioning of the lungs.
With both types of lung cancer (non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer), early and accurate diagnosis is crucial for determining the correct staging and informing the best treatment plan.
False! Lung cancer is caused by the growth and spread of abnormal cells. Cells become abnormal for a range of reasons including smoking, genetics, and exposure to pollution, smoking, dust, asbestos, silica, fumes, etc.
Fact! Lung cancer can be hereditary in some cases. If you have a family history of lung cancer, it is worth limiting your exposure to other lung cancer risk factors, paying attention to your lung health, and getting checked if you grow concerned.
Fact! Absolutely! Lung cancer is curable, however, of all the cancers, it does cause the most deaths in Australia. The key, as with any cancer, is to know your risk, know the symptoms, and get checked as soon as possible.
False! Prognosis is unique to the person. The stage of the cancer, available treatment options, and general health and age of the person all contribute to how long a person will live with treatment. Some will make a full recovery and be able to return to their pre-cancer lives. The most crucial factor in determining the outcome of a person’s lung cancer treatment is the age of the cancer – young cancers caught early are much more treatable.
SUPPORT AND RESOURCES
Disclaimer: Please note, if you have any questions or reservations about your health, it is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider, who can address your concerns directly. This is general information, not tailored to a specific individual.