A lung mass diagnosis is being down by the use of an x-ray or CT scan. Determining whether the mass is an early stage of cancer or benign will be very important as early detection of lung cancer is crucial for survival. A benign mass will cause no symptoms, which is why they are often accidentally discovered on an x-ray. A person newly diagnosed with cancer may feel overwhelmed, scared and desperate to find the best treatment. It’s important that you follow your physician’s care instructions closely, make all of your treatment appointments and make important lifestyle changes that can improve your chances of effective treatment.
The Symptoms of Lung Cancer
The causes behind benign masses are not clear. Generally, they will usually result from problems such as an abscess on the lung, pneumonia or by an infectious fungus. The lungs themselves are two sponge-like organs located in the chest. They bring in oxygen while filtering out carbon dioxide. A mass can be found in the lungs at any age but will rarely affect someone under the age of twenty.
Cancer is the result of the growth of abnormal cells that continue to grow and multiply without stopping. These abnormal cells will spread to other areas of the body, where they will also thrive. So a mass is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells located in the lungs.
The most common symptoms of this type of cancer include pain in the chest, upper back or shoulders, because a lung mass can press against the inside of the chest and irritate the pleura or chest lining. Weight loss and fatigue can be another sign of lung cancer because the mass will use up the body’s energy. Swelling of the face and neck can occur because the mass will press on the lymph and blood vessels, which will cause a back up in fluids. Repeated infections of the lungs can occur due to the tumor cells trapping bacteria in the lungs.
Symptoms from the spread of the cancer can be the initial sign that keys you into its presence. The most common areas of the body that the cancer will likely spread to include the liver, bones and brain. This means that the cancer symptoms that come from the bones can include fractures or pain from the tumor cells replacing the normal bone. Should the disease spread to the brain it will cause weakness, confusion and constant headaches. Should the disease spread to the liver there will not be any likely symptoms. In order to determine if the cancer has spread to the liver your physician will order a blood test.
Screening for Lung Cancer
Early screening for this cancer may not affect the outcome of the disease. A chest x-ray will typically only be able to detect the presence of a lung mass after it has reached one centimeter in diameter and with a growth that size this means that it has been growing for a period of ten to fifteen years. Patients who are at an increased risk for contracting cancer can be screened with a special CT scan, which can show tumors earlier than a basic chest x-ray. A diagnosis of this type of cancer can be made from the tissue or cells taken from the lungs which are examined under a microscope.
After a mass has been found and staged, your cancer treatment team will discuss the treatment options available. When it comes to choosing the appropriate treatment there are a few main factors to consider, such as whether the cancer has spread to the organs or lymph nodes, the size of the tumor and the location. Any other types of medical conditions you have will also play a role in determining the best way to attack the cancer. Based on these factors, the main treatment options include radiation therapy, surgery, chemo and drug treatments. These treatments may be used alone or in combination, depending on the extent and type of disease. Selecting the right treatment is a very important decision. You should take time to research all of your options. Make sure you discuss these options and their side effects with your doctor, in order to make an informed decision. Many experts also recommend getting a second opinion, if time permits. Doing so can provide you with more information and can even give you more confidence regarding the type of treatment you choose.
During this time you will have different types of doctors as part of your treatment team. This will depend on your treatment options and the stage of cancer. These specialists include a thoracic surgeon, medical oncologist, and pulmonologist and radiation oncologist. Many other doctors may be part of your treatment team as well, including NPs, social workers and PAs.
[box]Every person diagnosed with a cancerous mass tends to quickly become an expert, due to the countless hours of research. During this time, you may come across complementary or alternative methods that your physician has not mentioned that is designed to relieve symptoms or more aggressively treat your cancer. These methods often include special diets, vitamins, herbs and other methods including massage or acupuncture. A complementary method refers to a type of treatment that’s used in addition to regular medical attention. An alternative treatment is used in place of medical treatment prescribed by your doctor. While some of these methods can be effective in relieving symptoms, many have not been proven to work and some can be potentially dangerous. This is especially true for patients in advanced stages who have refused traditional medical treatment.
Be sure to speak with your treatment team after lung mass diagnosis has been done regarding the methods you’re considering using. They will help to educate you on what is and isn’t known regarding the method you want to try and can even help you to make an informed decision. Your treatment team will be your primary source of support and information, but there are also other resources available that can help you during this time, when it is desperately needed.[/box]