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Lynne Eldridge MD

How Can You Know if Your Lung Cancer Has Spread?

By February 26, 2014

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I was recently asked a very important question - and one that I'm sure many of you have entertained. How can you know if your lung cancer has spread?

Unfortunately the spread of lung cancer to distant regions of the body is all too common - and roughly 40% of people already have metastatic disease (lung cancer that has spread) at the time of diagnosis.

For those who have their lung cancer discovered at early stages of the disease, surgery offers a chance for a cure. But even with surgery, lung cancer can rear it's head later on in the form of metastases. How will you know if this has happened?

First of all it helps to know the most common areas to which lung cancer spread. The most common site is to local lymph nodes. Lung cancer spread to lymph nodes often occurs without symptoms, but can affect the treatment your doctor recommends as well as your prognosis. Other common sites of metastases include the brain, bones, the liver, and the adrenal glands.

When lung cancer spreads to the brain, symptoms may include headaches, seizures, loss of coordination, speech problems, or changes in personality.

Spread to the liver may result in jaundice, a yellowish discoloration of the skin. Itching, often severe, is another symptom that may occur with liver metastases.

Bone metastases often result in pain. These may also result in numbness and weakness of the legs when they occur in the spine.

To learn more about possible symptoms related to the spread of lung cancer, and how metastatic lung cancer may be treated, check out these articles:

March 18, 2014 at 11:14 am
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