Lung cancer can affect breathing in multiple ways. Cough and shortnes of breath are often the presenting complaints for a patient with lung cancer. The way lung cancer affects breathing very much depends on the area of where the lung cancer is in the lungs and how it develops throughout time. People with lung cancer often do have shortness of breath, therefore need further treatment to address that. This can be done through surgery, radiation or chemotherapy depending on the situation and stage of the disease. Through the course of the disease, this can also change. It is important for a patient to know that there are multiple treatments for breathing problems in patients who have lung cancer.
A Answers (2)
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons answeredLung cancer can affect breathing by interfering with the normal function of the lung by one of three processes. The first is when a tumor blocks off an airway and essentially takes that piece of lung "out of commission." With the airway blocked, no oxygen can get into it for transport into the blood and this therefore results in mild to severe problems with breathing. The second is similar to the first but goes one further step. When an airway is blocked by tumor, the mucus trapped within the lung can get infected, leading to a build-up of pus in the air sacs of the lung. This process is termed "obstructive pneumonia and produces not only shortness of breath but fevers and chills as well. Finally, lung cancer can affect breathing by leading to fluid accumulation in the space between the lung and the ribs. The lung is a soft, spongy tissue while the chest wall is solid and composed of muscle and bone. Thus, when the fluid accumulation is large enough it will compress the spongy lung and the air sacs within the lung will collapse. With no oxygen getting into the air sacs, the patient becomes short of breath.