Complications of lung cancer include shortness of breath, chest pain, build-up of fluid around the lungs, infection, cancer spread to other organs, blood clots, coughing up blood, increased level of calcium in the blood, heart blockage, spinal cord compression, symptoms due to compression of nerves or compression of oesophagus, facial swelling, etc.
According to a (2011) study, a tumour in the lung can put pressure on the super vena cava (SVC) to restrict the blood flow from the upper body to the heart. This condition is called SVC syndrome and can cause swelling in the face, neck or arms. Another study says that cancer cells in the lungs can cause a build-up of fluid around the lungs to induce pain or shortness of breath, a condition that is called pleural effusion. Lung tumours also increase the risk of pneumonia.
A study has also shown that lung cancer can spread to other body parts such as the brain, liver, bones, the opposite lung and adrenal glands. Another complication that may arise from lung cancer is pulmonary embolism – a condition that causes blockage in the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. A similar study published in National Library of Medicine has shown that lung cancer can cause blood clots and induce pulmonary embolism.
There was a study conducted in 2015 which showed that lung cancer may cause excess calcium in the blood. Due to this, people with the condition may show symptoms of thirst, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, tiredness, weakness, dizziness or frequent urination.
Likewise, available scientific evidence shows that lung cancer can affect the heart, spinal cord, nerves or oesophagus locally or by spreading to these organs causing symptoms. So, in case lung cancer affects the spinal cord, people with the condition may suffer from back pain, weakness in the legs or arms or bladder dysfunction. When oesophagus is involved, people may experience difficulty in swallowing.
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