How does lung cancer impact the body?
Lung cancer impacts all parts of your body in a negative way. Cancer can spread to different systems, causing weight loss, poor energy, infections, shortness of breath, nausea, and numerous other negative problems.
Alla Gimelfarb, MD
Hematology & Oncology

Lung cancer has multiple ways of impacting a body.  This depends on the stage of lung cancer and at which point it becomes diagnosed.  At early stages, lung cancers are often asymptomatic and most patients are unaware that they have the disease.  As the disease becomes more advanced, variable symptoms can develop.  They often present with respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, or blood with coughing.  If the lung cancer is metastatic, it can also present with other issues outside of the respiratory system such as neurological symptoms, weight loss, loss of appetite, seizures and other multiple complications.  Lung cancer can spread to multiple sides of the body and, therefore, its impact on one's body is very individual based and is often variable between patients.

Vijay Nuthakki, MD
Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular)
The effects lung cancer has on your body are associated with the location of the cancer and the degree to which the disease has advanced. General features may include unexplained weight loss and night sweats. If it has spread to other parts of your body, it can cause pain at those sites or neurological changes if metastatic to the brain. If the cancer is in one of the tubes that lead to the lungs, it may be harder for air to pass into and out of the lungs. If this occurs, the decreased air movement can result in a wheezing noise upon breathing, as well as difficulty breathing. In more advanced lung cancer, the tumor may affect neighboring tissues and cause problems with your heart and nerves that run to the face and arms, vocal cords, or diaphragm. The cancer may also grow to the point of invading the esophagus (a tube which carries food from the mouth to the stomach, causing difficulty swallowing. Lung cancer eventually prevents the lungs from doing their job of providing oxygen to the body, and low oxygen levels occur.
Small lung cancers do not usually cause any symptoms and are occasionally found accidentally on a chest x-ray or CT scan done for another purpose. However, most lung cancers are symptomatic when they are discovered.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.