Posted on July 08th, 2020
A significant number of lung cancer patients experience complications as a result of their disease or as a consequence of the treatment they need to receive. Complications such as kidney failure, neuropathy and heart disease can arise in people who struggle with lung cancer.
By the end of 2020, over 228,000 people will have been diagnosed with lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer death both in the United States and worldwide. While the majority of cases of lung cancer are the consequence of tobacco smoking, approximately 4,800 individuals lose their lives every year to lung cancer which occurs as a result of asbestos exposure. During the last century, more than 75 industries made use of tremendous amounts of asbestos and, although the companies were aware of the terrible health effects of exposure, they continued employing it. Consequently, 20% of former industrial workers and 30% of veterans are now struggling with a disease, since asbestos was highly prevalent in the military as well. If you develop lung cancer, there is a high risk that you will also experience other health complications, which can be fatal.
Kidney failure is a health complication which can arise as a result of chemotherapy in people who have lung cancer. When one or both of your kidneys fail, dialysis will be required so that your body can properly filter the fluids and release toxins. As the last stage of chronic kidney disease, kidney failure is accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, fluid retention, which causes swelling in your legs, ankle or feet, a decrease in the amount of urine you eliminate, fatigue and confusion. Approximately 13% of lung cancer patients experience kidney failure.
Neuropathy, a disorder which affects mainly the nerves in your hands and feet, is another complication of lung cancer. If a tumor grows near the nerves in your arm or shoulder, it will inevitably compress the nerves and result in pain and weakness. Other symptoms of neuropathy include tingling and numbness. Furthermore, if lung cancer develops near the nerves of the neck or face, it can lead to Horner syndrome, a condition in which the eye on one side of the face has a droopy eyelid. Lastly, lung cancer tumors can compress the voice box, medically known as the larynx, which will cause hoarseness and voice changes.
Heart complications are also common with lung cancer. If the tumor develops near the heart or a major vessel, it will exert pressure on the heart, which may result in irregular heartbeat or a buildup of fluid around the heart. The patient may also experience swelling in the upper part of the body, namely in the chest, neck and face. In turn, the swelling can lead to vision problems, dizziness, headaches and fatigue, which is also a symptom of lung cancer itself.
Other health complications lung cancer may lead to are the following: