Lung Cancer: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Stages, And Remedies June 30, 2017

Cancer, in any form, is a scary disease that can easily progress to undesirable stages. Lung cancer is one such type of cancer with high risks. If you are a healthy individual who wants to prevent lung cancer or someone who has been diagnosed with the disease, we want to help you deal with this deadly disease through this article. Go ahead and give it a read.

We shall discuss various facts about lung cancer, including its causes, symptoms, stages, and types. A couple of remedies that can help you to alleviate the symptoms are talked about in detail, along with diet recommendations and prevention tips.

Let’s get started.

Facts About Lung Cancer

  • Lung cancer mostly affects people during the old age, with more than 80% of the cases reported belonging to the population that is 60 years and older.
  • It is the most common type of cancer worldwide.
  • It is the leading cause of cancer deaths across the globe.
  • Its incidence is greater in men than in women.
  • Black men and women are more prone to developing lung cancer when compared to other races or ethnicities.
  • Lung cancer survival rates are lower than colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, with only 16% of the cases being detected in the early stages.
  • Screening facilities for lung cancer are available for people who are at a high risk of developing it. This will reduce the mortality rates as the disease can be diagnosed at an early stage.

These were some worldwide statistics related to lung cancer (1). Let’s now look at the causes and symptoms of lung cancer.

What Causes Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is understood as the constant growth and multiplication of abnormal cells in one or both the lungs. They rapidly divide and form tumors. The causes of lung cancer are:

  • Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, be it among smokers or even non-smokers (secondhand smoking causing lung cancer)
  • Exposure to the radioactive gas radon
  • Occupational exposure to asbestos, coke, arsenic, and uranium (1, 2)

[ Read: Breathing Exercises For Clear And Healthy Lungs ]

Signs And Symptoms Of Lung Cancer

Here are the initial signs and symptoms of lung cancer:

  • Cough and chest pain
  • Changes in your chronic cough
  • Vomiting blood and feeling nauseous
  • Running out of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Losing weight without diet and exercise
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Joint and bone pain
  • Hoarseness

Lung cancer doesn’t come with any specific signs or symptoms in the initial stages that can help us diagnose it. The above-mentioned symptoms can easily be confused with other respiratory infections or ailments. If you are a high-risk individual experiencing a combination of these symptoms, consult a doctor immediately (2, 3). Given below is information regarding the types of lung cancer and their stages.

[ Read: Natural Supplements To Overcome Fatigue ]

Different Types Of Lung Cancer

Bronchogenic carcinomas, the medical term for lung cancer, are of two types:

(A) Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

This is the most aggressive type that contributes to 10-15% of lung cancers detected worldwide. The cancer cells rapidly grow and metastasize. This cancer is mostly due to smoking.

(B) Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

This is the most common type of lung cancer detected, contributing to almost 85% of lung cancers worldwide. This is further divided into three types based on the type of cells present in the tumors.

(i) Adenocarcinoma – This is associated with smoking, but is also seen in non-smokers (usually women). Cancer arises from the outer areas of the lungs and tends to spread to the lymph nodes. Patients with this cancer have a better prognosis than the other types of lung cancer.
(ii) Squamous Cell Carcinoma – This cancer arises in the central part of the lungs in the bronchi and almost forms a cavity when it spreads. It is also called epidermoid carcinoma.
(iii) Large Cell Carcinoma – This the least common type of NSCLC and has a tendency to spread to the lymph nodes and distant sites.

These were the different types of lung cancer (4). Here are the stages for each type.

Lung Cancer Stages

(A) Small Cell Lung Cancer Stages

Limited Stage – Cancer is present on one side of the lung and the nearby lymph nodes.
Extensive Stage – Cancer has spread to other areas of the respiratory system and also other parts of the body.

(B) Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Stages

Stage I – Cancer is present only in the lung.
Stage II – Cancer is present in the lung and the nearby lymph nodes.
Stage III – Cancer in the lung and lymph nodes on the same side or opposite side of the chest
Stage IV – Also known as Advanced Disease. Cancer is found in both the lungs, the fluid around the lungs, and the nearby organs like the liver.

The process of staging is important to determine not only the type of cancer but the stage as well so that the best treatment route can be opted for (5, 6).

In addition to taking medications prescribed by the doctor for lung cancer, you could use a couple of home remedies that will certainly help you feel better. Make sure you have taken the doctor’s suggestions and advice before using any of the following remedies.

Remedies To Treat Lung Cancer

  1. Essential Oils
  2. Herbs
  3. Turmeric
  4. Apple Cider Vinegar
  5. Juicing
  6. Kale
  7. Lemon And Baking Soda
  8. Vitamins
  9. Apricot
  10. Mushrooms

Home Remedies For Lung Cancer

1. Essential Oils For Lung Cancer

1.-Essential-Oils-For-Lung-Cancer

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh aloe vera gel
  • 4-5 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 2-4 drops myrrh essential oil
  • 1-2 drops lavender essential oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a pan and place it on low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir a couple of times so that the oils and gel blend well.
  2. Remove the pan from the flame and let the mixture cool down.
  3. Transfer it to an airtight glass container and store in the refrigerator or a dark cupboard.
  4. Take a few drops of this blend and massage the inflamed and/or sore areas of the body with it.

This blend can be used for up to two weeks, after which it is advisable to make a fresh batch.

How Often You Should Do This

Use this once or twice every day.

Why This Works

Both aloe vera gel and coconut oil soothe the inflamed skin. Frankincense essential oil calms down the nervous system and is soothing for the mind. It has anti-inflammatory properties and compounds that have been shown to possess anticancer properties (7). Myrrh essential oil was proven to inhibit cancer cell lines in laboratory experiments, thus proving its anticancer activity (8).

Caution

Before using any essential oil, it is important to do a patch test to ensure that it does not cause any allergic reactions.

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2. Herbs For Lung Cancer

2.-Herbs-For-Lung-Cancer

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger
  • A cup of hot water
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon honey
What You Have To Do
  1. Chop the ginger and soak it in hot water for a few minutes.
  2. Strain the water and add honey to it.
  3. Mix well and drink this herbal tea.
How Often You Should Do This

Have this tea to keep nausea and vomiting under control.

Why This Works

Chemotherapy is commonly used for cancer treatment, and it often results in side effects like nausea and vomiting. Ginger, when used in these circumstances, acts as a digestive aid and alleviates these side effects. It also has antitumorigenic effects, which means that it inhibits tumor growth if ingested regularly (9).

Apart from this easily found herb, there are other herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), like astralagus, that have anticancer effects. The dosage of these medicines depends on many factors. If you want to consider this alternative route of treatment, consult a TCM specialist.

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3. Turmeric Against Lung Cancer

3.-Turmeric-Against-Lung-Cancer

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • Salt (to taste)
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix all the spices and store in a dark place.
  2. Add some of this mixture to your food or some hummus and consume it.
How Often You Should Do This

Include this in your daily diet.

Why This Works

Turmeric contains curcumin that, when ingested, participates in various molecular pathways and exerts anticancer effects. Turmeric contains anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce the swelling or irritation caused by cancer. Its antioxidants help to eliminate the free radicals that are damaging the healthy cells (10, 11).

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4. Apple Cider Vinegar For Lung Cancer

4.-Apple-Cider-Vinegar-For-Lung-Cancer

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • A glass of warm water
What You Have To Do

Mix the vinegar and honey in water and drink this on an empty stomach.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this every morning. You can have another glass of the ACV water later during the day as well.

Why This Works

There is evidence from experiments conducted around the globe that ACV, a type of vinegar, can exert antitumor effects and stop the proliferation of cancer cells. It also works as a preventive measure against precancer cells (12).

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5. Juicing For Lung Cancer

5.-Juicing-For-Lung-Cancer

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

A glass of fresh pomegranate juice

What You Have To Do

Drink this anytime during the day.

How Often You Should Do This

Have this every day religiously as part of your regular diet.

Why This Works

The antioxidants present in pomegranate juice were shown to reduce the size of lung tumors in lab experiments (13).

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6. Kale For Lung Cancer

6.-Kale-For-Lung-Cancer

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

1 cup kale

What You Have To Do

Steam the kale leaves for five minutes. Add them to your soup, salad, or any other suitable dish.

How Often You Should Do This

Eat 3/4th to one cup of kale every day.

Why This Works

This cruciferous vegetable is rich in organosulfur compounds that have anticancer properties. Kale is also rich in many vitamins and minerals that will help the body to regain its optimum health quickly (14).

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7. Lemon And Baking Soda

7.-Lemon-And-Baking-Soda

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 8 oz. water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
What You Have To Do
  1.  In a glass, take the baking soda and add the lemon juice to it.
  2. Once the fizzing has stopped, add water to this and drink immediately.

You can use organic apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.

How Often You Should Do This

Consume a glass of this every day.

Why This Works

Cancer cells love an acidic environment in the body. They thrive in the raised acidity of the body fluids and tissues. Baking soda, being an alkaline compound, counteracts this acidity and brings the body’s pH under control (15). This can affect the cancer cells negatively and cause a reduction in tumor size.

Caution

Consuming baking soda is not advised for every patient. Consult your doctor before you use this remedy. Also, do not drink this 30 minutes before or after a meal as it can influence the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients in the stomach.

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8. Vitamins For Lung Cancer

8.-Vitamins-For-Lung-Cancer

Image: Shutterstock

Vitamin D is an important vitamin that has been tested and shown to exert a positive impact on lung cancer treatment and prevention. It plays a vital role in calcium and phosphorus homeostasis in the body. It was also found that it participated in the body’s immune response to cancer and anti-tumor activity. Doctors often recommend supplementation with vitamin D for lung cancer because of these properties (16, 17). Check with your doctor for the appropriate dosage for your age and level of disease, and start taking it immediately.

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9. Apricot For Lung Cancer

9.-Apricot-For-Lung-Cancer

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

Apricot fruit (fresh or dried)

What You Have To Do

Have 2-3 of these every day.

How Often You Should Do This

Make apricot a part of your daily food intake.

Why This Works

Apricots contain flavonoids like lutein that have chemopreventive effects (18). An extract from this fruit was shown to kill cancer cells in the lab in a study conducted in Japan (19).

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10. Mushrooms

10.-Mushrooms

Image: Shutterstock

There are plenty of mushroom varieties available in the market, and about 100 different species of these are used by Chinese herbalists for their extensive health benefits. Mushrooms such as shiitake, reishi, and turkey tail are most commonly used before starting cancer treatment. They have shown to reduce the side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Recent research has also brought to light the immune-modulating and anticancer compounds found in mushrooms, such as beta glucan, lentinan, lectin, etc. Incorporate these in your diet with salads, in soups, in gravies, or with meat/fish and reap the benefits. Supplements for medicinal mushrooms are also available in the market and can be consumed if fresh mushrooms are not available in your area (20, 21).

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If not 100% proved, substantial proof is available for the remedies listed above. They have no side effects, so there is no harm in including them in your routine. However, we would recommend taking your doctor’s advice so that no complications arise. Another thing doctors always say is – a healthy diet can always fight cancer. We have compiled a list of recommended foods that will help you control and prevent lung cancer. Make sure you include them in your diet.

Foods That Fight Lung Cancer

A. Colorful Fruits And Vegetables

  • Add more of vitamin C and vitamin B-rich dishes to your diet. These act as antioxidants and are of great use, especially when it comes to protecting your body from lung cancer. A few examples are squash, berries, oranges, carrots, papayas, and bell peppers.
  • Cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, and broccoli, contain cancer-killing compounds.

B. Protein

  • Chicken, eggs, and lean meat are healthy options. Just make sure you don’t fry these items.
  • The omega-3 fatty acids present in salmon, sardines, and mackerel are also some foods you should consume to treat lung cancer.

[ Read: Protein Rich Foods You Should Include In Your Diet ]

C. Whole Grains

Whole grains consist of oats, whole wheat, and quinoa. They contain vitamin B and iron that can boost the immune response against cancer cells.

While including these foods in your diet, make sure you stay away from refined carbohydrates, such as pastries and pasta. High sugar foods, fried foods, and spicy foods are best avoided.

Risk Factors For Lung Cancer

Certain factors can increase your chances of developing lung cancer. These risk factors are:

  • Smoking
  • Secondhand smoke exposure
  • Smoking marijuana
  • Radon gas exposure
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Exposure to other carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) such as asbestos, arsenic, uranium or coke
  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Genetic mutations seen with old age
  • Living in highly polluted areas (22, 23)

Here are some tips to prevent lung cancer and some that will help you deal with it.

Prevention And Tips

1. Try To Relax

Running out of breath can be very dangerous at times. It makes you uncomfortable and anxious. But if you are going to be too worried, you will not find relief from your condition. When you feel you are running short of breath, try to handle the fear by indulging in an activity that makes you feel good and relaxed. You could say a prayer, watch some funny television show or a good movie, or simply imagine a nice vacation spot.

2. Focus On Breathing

Another natural way to treat short breaths is to focus on your breathing. Fill your lungs with air and try to control the muscles that handle your diaphragm. You should also breathe through pursed lips and pace your breaths with the help of this technique.

3. Save Some Energy

When you feel like you can’t breathe anymore, it becomes very natural to feel tired. Treat this problem by simply getting rid of all those tasks that are not needed or make you feel very tired or exhausted. You should save your energy as much as possible when undergoing treatment for cancer.

4. Plenty Of Small Meals

Low appetite is one of the most common symptoms that come with lung cancer, especially in the advanced stages. This is why you end up losing weight, and sometimes, it can make you malnourished. However, you could control this symptom by simply eating plenty of small meals throughout the day. Try adding a few soft or bland meals to your diet if you find a few dishes difficult to consume.

5. Stop Smoking

If you are someone who smokes, it’s high time you stopped it right away. This will help your treatment become effective and let you live longer. When you smoke, the healing process can get delayed as the nicotine found in tobacco leads to the multiplication of cancerous cells. So, it is better to keep all your cigarettes away while you’re trying to recover. Also, stay away from secondhand smoking as much as possible.

6. Meditation

Meditation reduces stress and improves the quality of life significantly. You can follow a few YouTube channels of your choice to learn more about meditation or simply learn the techniques and practice when you are free. Just 10 minutes of meditation can prove to be a life-changing experience for all lung cancer patients.

7. Heat Or Cold Packs

If you are experiencing pain in any section of your body, try some heat or cold packs. The heat pack is for your chest pain, and cold packs are for your joint or bone pain. As your skin would be tender from radiation treatment, make sure not to use the packs directly on your skin.

8. Body Massage

A good body massage will also alleviate the symptoms of body pain, something that is very common among lung cancer patients. Do avoid getting a massage on those areas where you have visible tumors or deep vein thrombosis.

9. Stay Away From Carcinogens

Be it radon or any other carcinogen your body is being exposed to at work, for example, asbestos, avoid exposure to them. You can contact your local public health department to check your home for radon levels. For carcinogen exposure at work, use all precautionary measures given by the employer.

10. Exercise Regularly

Keeping your body active a few hours during the week will boost your immune system and health. Do not exert yourself. Simple walking, jogging, or aerobic exercises are also fine. You can practice yoga as well.

Lung cancer is definitely not a simple ailment affecting the body. It is a critical disease that requires medical attention at the earliest. The natural remedies we have given in this article can help you in the process of recovery. Please do not rely on these remedies alone as they only act as supplements to the treatment advised by the oncologist.

Below are a few more doubts regarding lung cancer answered for you.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What does lung cancer feel like?

Lung cancer patients usually experience cough, pain in the chest, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath (or wheezing), discomfort in the chest, and sudden weight loss.

How does lung cancer affect the body?

The cancerous cells destroy and damage healthy lung tissues to cause the various symptoms given in this article.

What percentage of smokers get lung cancer?

There is no definite percentage for this as the numbers vary for former smokers, current smokers, and heavy smokers. More than 24% of heavy smokers are at a risk of developing lung cancer.

Can e-cigarettes cause lung cancer?

High power e-cigarettes are capable of producing high levels of benzene, which is considered as a cancer-causing agent. So, if you do use an e-cigarette, steer clear of the high power ones.

Can marijuana cause lung cancer?

Yes, smoking marijuana over long periods can cause lung cancer (24).

Can chewing tobacco cause lung cancer?

Oral tobacco can cause lung cancer as it contains 28 different types of carcinogens. It is not an alternative to smoking (25).

What are the chances of surviving stage 4 lung cancer?

The 5-year survival rate of stage 4 lung cancer is 1-2%.

What color represents lung cancer?

A white ribbon is used for lung cancer awareness campaigns.

How long can you live with lung cancer?

The survival rate of lung cancer depends on the stage of the disease. As the disease progresses, the prognosis becomes more and more unfavorable.

What are the alternatives to chemotherapy for lung cancer?

Depending on the stage of the disease, the oncologist will pick the most suitable method and course of treatment. Apart from chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, and target therapy are used in varied combinations to get the best outcome (26).

What is the cause of mucus in the lungs?

The chemicals from smoking irritate the mucus linings of the lungs, causing them to produce excess mucus. Lung infections can also be easily contracted in such conditions, which are also a cause of excess mucus production.

Can lung cancer be treated with radiotherapy?

Yes, radiotherapy is often used by itself or in combination with other therapies for lung cancer treatment.

Does yoga cure lung cancer?

Yoga consists of stretching, breathing, and meditation exercises. Yoga, by itself, cannot cure lung cancer. However, it can help ease breathing and relieve stress. You can do simple yoga asanas at home or join a health center near your place.

We tried our best to cover as much about lung cancer, including the causes, symptoms, natural remedies, and tips to help you on your road to recovery. Do keep these mind. If you are not afflicted with this disease, do share the information with someone who might benefit from it. You could make a huge difference to someone’s life.

Also, leave your ideas and comments in the box given below.

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