Persistent Cough

A Persistent Cough, may be a symptom of Lung Cancer.

The symptoms of Lung Cancer, can result from, local tumor growth and invasion of adjacent structures; regional growth, including spread to nearby lymph nodes; spread of cancer to distant parts of the body; and paraneoplastic symptoms that are caused by hormones that are produced by Lung Cancer cells.

Lung Cancer can sometimes be discovered, when a chest x-ray is taken for another purpose, in a person who is not experiencing symptoms.

Lung Cancers that originate, and grow in bronchi, and spread to nearby lymph nodes, can produce many symptoms - pain, cough, shortness of breath, pneumonia, coughing up blood, hoarseness caused by pressure on a nerve, difficulty swallowing due to obstruction of the esophagus, and swelling of the neck, face, and upper extremities caused by pressure on blood vessels.

Cancer cells that have broken away from the primary tumor, and have spread to the brain, distant lymph nodes, liver, or other parts of the body, can cause a variety of symptoms. Depending on which organs are affected, these symptoms can include headache, weakness, pain, bone fractures, jaundice, and bleeding.

People who have Lung Cancer, most often people with Small Cell Lung Cancer, may also have remote, indirect effects of Cancer, called Paraneoplastic Symptoms, symptoms that occur "along with" (para) the Cancer (Neoplasm). They are caused by hormones or other substances produced by the Cancer cells.

There is a wide range of categories of Paraneoplastic symptoms, including: disorders of the hormone production, the nervous system, the blood, the kidneys, and skin.

For example, some Lung Cancer cells produce, Arginine Vasopressin (AVP), which acts on the kidneys to cause a drastic reduction of the concentration of sodium in the body. Sodium deficiency in turn causes severe confusion and may even produce coma.

Another Paraneoplastic Symptom, is caused by Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH), the hormone normally produced by the pituitary gland to act on the adrenal glands and regulate various body functions. Unrestrained ACTH production by Lung Cancer cells, causes elevated blood sugar levels, diabetes, decreased concentration of potassium in the blood, and an increase in body fat and hair growth.

Hypercalcemia (abnormally high concentration of calcium compounds in the circulated blood), caused by production of a hormone-like substance, occurs in about 5 percent of people diagnosed with Lung Cancer. Symptoms produced by hypercalcemia include: loss of appetite, nausea, drowsiness, constipation, and mental confusion.

Source: National Cancer Institute, U.S. Health & Human Services

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