As lung cancer is seldom diagnosed while at an early stage, and usually only by accident after a doctor has ordered a routine chest X-ray for another health issue, other vital organs in the body have already been affected by metastasis (its spread). It is quite common for 25% of all lung cancer sufferers to show no signs at all of having lung cancer present.
Unfortunately for many, the damage that has been caused to these organs is usually permanent. As the disease develops, metastasis is usually found not only in regional tissue, but in distant tissue too, allowing for it to move with relative ease throughout the body while infecting whatever gets in its way. Organs commonly affected by lung cancer are:
The Liver – Often the liver and adrenal glands (endocrine [glands that secrete hormones directly into the blood, and not through a duct] that sit at the top of the kidneys) are affected over a considerable amount of time without any noticeable symptoms to the sufferer.
The Brain – Usually the first symptoms that the brain has been affected by lung cancer metastasis is when the sufferer begins to have visual problems, memory loss problems, headaches, a noticeable loss of strength, or a partial seizure has occurred.
The Bones – When the bones have been affected, usually a noticeable discomfort will be present either in the vertebrae (backbone), or the ribs and thighs. Although these symptoms may be present much more earlier on, they usually either go unnoticed, or just get put down to the after-effects of something else.
The Nerves – Also prone to lung cancer metastasis are the nerves, when affected can cause many sufferers to experience aching pains in the shoulders that may also run along the outer-side of either arm.
The Vocal Cords – When the esophagus (the conduit that connects the mouth and stomach) has been affected, a sufferer may experience difficulty in swallowing. Often, this is when part of the lung has collapsed, resulting in an infection in the lung that can be extremely difficult to treat.
General Symptoms – When more organs in the body have been affected, a lack of appetite, weight loss (usually occurring when no exercise or dietary regime has been put in place), bleeding, and blood clotting may be noticed. Often when these symptoms are present, they easily go unnoticed due to being similar to the after-effects of other less serious illnesses.
However, if symptoms are persistent, it is always prudent to get them checked out by a doctor as soon as possible, as when lung cancer has metastasized to other vital organs in the body, a patients 5-year prognosis after diagnosis, is usually very poor.