Itвs important to report any unusual physical feelings to your doctor. Often, these unusual feelings can be attributed to other causes, such as bronchitis. But a doctor should check anything that is unusual or worrisome. The signs and symptoms of lung cancer can take years to develop and they may not appear until the disease is advanced. Symptoms of lung cancer that are in the chest Coughing, especially if it persists or becomes intense
Pain in the chest, shoulder, or back unrelated to pain from coughing Recurrent lung problems, such as bronchitis or pneumonia Coughing up phlegm or mucus, especially if it is tinged with blood If the original lung cancer has spread, a person may feel symptoms in other places in the body. Common places for lung cancer to spread include other parts of the lungs, lymph nodes, bones, brain, liver, and adrenal glands. Symptoms of lung cancer that may occur elsewhere in the body Headaches, bone or joint pain Neurological symptoms, such as unsteady gait or memory loss Half of all cancer patients suffer from a wasting syndrome calledб. Affected patients lose weight, including muscle, no matter how much they eat.
The wasting is the immediate cause of about a third of all cancer deaths. Those stark numbers have spurred research into what exactly causes cachexia in patients with cancer and how it might be avoided. Until recently, doctors thought cancer-associated cachexia was a sign of an energy-hungry tumor taking food from healthy cells. That view doesnБt account for the fact that small tumors can also cause wasting. Researchers increasingly suggest that the Бbrown fatБ that has been studied as an antidote to obesity could also trigger wasting in patients with cancer. Brown fat, which looks browner than conventional fat under a microscope, is a tool for the body to stay warm: Newborns have more of it than adults. Rather than simply storing calories, brown fat burns them. In overweight patients, converting white fat to brown would be helpful. But for patients with cancer, itБs a life-threatening problem that leads them to become frail and less able to withstand their treatments or fight off otherwise minor illnesses. Slowing Fat Browning to Prevent Cachexia In a study conducted at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid, researchers Michele Petruzzelli and Erwin Wagner tracked mice infected with different types of cancer and found that white fat converted into brown fat in all the types of cancer well before the animals showed any signs of wasting.
What, then, might doctors do to prevent patients from experiencing cachexia and what effect that might have on the progression of cancer? БIt is impossible at the moment to predict what would happen if we were able to prevent cachexia. Would cancer behave like a chronic disease and spare (many) years of life? We definitely hope so,Б Petruzzelli said in an email. Because cachexia is linked to inflammation, Petruzzelli and Wagner used a drug similar to a beta-blocker to stop one promoter of inflammation, interleukin-6, in the cancerous mice. Reducing inflammation slowed the rate at which white fat turned into brown fat, they reportedб inб Cell Metabolism. There are no approved drugs that prevent the conversion of white fat into brown, thoughб someб are being studied.
There aren t any drugs that can trigger the conversion as a fix for obesity either. Researchers Look for Other Possible Causes of Wasting In a separate study, researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston neutralized a chemical secreted by cancer tumors themselves. Neutralizingб parathyroid hormone-relatedб protein, or PTHrP, from the tumor slowed the shift from white fat to brown fat in mice with cancer, the researchers reportedб inб Nature. It also stopped the loss of muscle mass. But PTHrP Бis definitely not the whole answer,Б lead author Bruce Spiegelman said in aб press statement. It may drive cachexia in some patients but not in others. The two studies point in the same direction for further research. They indicate that if researchers can identify which biomarkers suggest that a patient is at higher risk of cachexia,б like interleukin-6 or PTHrP,б doctors could act sooner to prevent it. Researchers will also have to continue looking for ways to slow the conversion of white fat into brown before PetruzzelliБs dreams of cancer as a chronic illness can be realized.