Lung cancer: Dr Amir describes the symptoms in February
Experts have warned a swelling in the face could be a key sign of lung cancer.
Facial swelling, although lesser-known, can occur when a tumour exerts pressure on the superior vena cava (SVC), a vein which connects the head to the heart. The thin walls of this vital vein make it susceptible to compression.
According to Macmillan Cancer Support, most cases of superior vena cava obstruction (SVCO) are caused by lung cancer.
They state: “Most cases of SVCO (superior vena cava obstruction) are caused by lung cancer. The cancer may press directly on the SVC. Or it may spread to the lymph nodes (glands) nearby, which become swollen.
“These are other possible causes: Other cancers affecting the lymph nodes in the chest. These include lymphomas and testicular, breast, bowel or gullet (oesophageal) cancers.
“A blood clot forming in the vein and blocking the blood flow. This can happen if you have had a (central line) put into the vein – for example, to give you chemotherapy.”
In addition to facial swelling, individuals may also experience swelling in the neck, arms, and upper chest due to the compression of the vein. Other accompanying symptoms may include breathlessness, headaches, changes in eyesight, visible blue veins on the chest, or dizziness.
Lung cancer is a common and serious form of cancer. The NHS reports more than 43,000 people are diagnosed with this condition each year in the UK. Detecting subtle changes is crucial as early-stage lung cancer often presents few noticeable signs.
The NHS website also highlights that lung cancer is rare in those under 40 years old, predominantly affecting older individuals. In fact, more than 40 percent of lung cancer cases in the UK involve individuals aged 75 and older.
While non-smokers can develop lung cancer, smoking is the leading cause, accounting for over 70 percent of cases. Regularly inhaling various toxic substances through smoking contributes to the elevated risk.
For smokers, quitting the habit is a crucial step in reducing the chances of developing lung cancer.
Research also suggests adopting a low-fat, high-fibre diet, incorporating at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day, along with ample whole grains, can lower the risk not only of lung cancer but also other types of cancer and heart disease.
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