Cancer: Women with lung cancer likely to experience this symptom before diagnosis

Beatrice, Eugenie and Sarah speak to Teenage Cancer Trust

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According to researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, women with lung cancer are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction than men.

Their conclusion was reached after analysis of responses from participants asked about their sexual activity before and after lung cancer.

Discussing the study, lead researcher Narjust Florez said: “The SHAWL study is about bringing women’s sexuality to the forefront of scientific discussions because it has been significantly understudied.”

Florez added: “When comparing the information before lung cancer diagnosis and after lung cancer diagnosis, the difference is staggering. Lung cancer significantly affects the sexual health of these women.”

When said data was analysed, 77 percent of participants reported little to no interest in sexual activity with the most common reasons relating to fatigue, feelings of sadness, issues with partners, and shortness of breath.

As a result of their findings, Florez said: “Sexual health should be integrated into thoracic oncology and further research is necessary to develop tailored interventions for patients with lung cancer. Patients whose sexual health is addressed have better quality of live, better pain control, and better relationships with their partners and their healthcare team.”

While the study opens a window into sexual health and lung cancer link, further research is required into how deep this link goes.

Furthermore, research is also needed on whether men’s sexual health is also affected by lung cancer, so a comparison can be made on whether one gender is impacted more than others.

Lung cancer, by virtue of its presence in the cardiovascular system, has some similar symptoms to those of chest of infections, albeit with some important differences.

The main symptoms of lung cancer include:
• A cough which doesn’t go away after two or three weeks
• A long-standing cough that gets worse
• Chest infections that keep coming back
• Coughing up blood
• An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
• Persistent breathlessness
• Persistent tiredness or lack of energy
• Loss of appetite
• Unexplained weight loss.

The NHS say anyone with these symptoms should immediately consult with their GP and get tested for the condition.

However, while these are the most common symptoms of lung cancer, they aren’t the only signs. Less common symptoms can appear such as:
• Change in the appearance of fingers
• Difficulty swallowing
• Wheezing
• A hoarse voice
• Swelling of the face or neck
• Persistent chest or shoulder pain.

How can lung cancer be prevented?

Lung cancer is one of the most preventable cancers in the UK according to charities. As a result, there are ample ways for someone to effectively reduce their risk of developing the condition.

Chief among these is not to smoke. Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer, accounting for more than 70 percent of cases.

As well as avoiding smoking or quitting if one partakes in this lifestyle habit, the NHS also recommend the two mainstays of healthy living, regular exercise and a balanced diet.

Regular exercise improves cardiovascular health and strengthens the immune system by improving overall fitness.

What are the other causes of lung cancer?

As well as smoking, lung cancer can also be caused by passive smoking; this occurs when someone breaths cigarette smoke exhaled from a nearby smoker, exposing them to toxins that person recently inhaled.

Furthermore, exposure to harmful chemicals and carcinogens also increase someone’s risk, as these can increase the likelihood of harmful cell mutations which lead to the development of tumours.

This exposure can come by accident or through occupational exposure if said occupation results in this risk.

As well as these exposures, pollutions is becoming recognised as a risk factor for lung cancer with exposure to diesel fumes over many years increasingly the likelihood of development of the disease.

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