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Lung Cancer: How To Spot The Symptoms

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Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, and with news that smokers may be much more likely to get it if they carry a faulty gene, it's worth paying attention to warning signs.

Around 43,000 people are diagnosed every year. It's also one of those tricky cancers that shows few symptoms in the early stages, meaning that by the time it is diagnosed, it may be quite advanced.

There are two types of lung cancer - one that begins in the lungs (primary lung cancer), and another that spreads to the lungs from another part of the body.

Primary lung cancer is classed by the type of cells where the cancer begins. Non-small-cell lung cancer is the most common type - it tends to account for about 80% of all cases. The other type is less common - it is called small-cell lung cancer and spreads faster than the other type of lung cancer.

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What causes lung cancer? Like most cancers, there are some undetermined reasons, but a no-brainer is smoking.

According to Cancer Research UK, "Smoking causes nearly 9 out of 10 cases (86%). A further 3% of cases of lung cancer are caused by exposure to second hand smoke in non smokers (passive smoking)."

Other causes include exposure to radon gas (a radioactive substance), air pollution and family history. As for diet and lifestyle, more work needs to be done before conclusive findings are drawn.

However - a healthy lifestyle is important because if you do have lung cancer, your treatment and recovery will depend not only on the stage of cancer but how good your general health is.

The NHS says: "If the condition is diagnosed early and the cancerous cells are confined to a small area, surgery to remove the affected area of lung is usually recommended. If surgery is unsuitable due to your general health, radiotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells may be recommended instead.

"If the cancer has spread too far for surgery or radiotherapy to be effective, chemotherapy is usually used."

Take a look at some of the symptoms of lung cancer. In some cases these may be symptoms of much less serious ailments. If in doubt, simply check with your GP.

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