Shortness of breath, also called dyspnea, is common with lung cancer patients and it often gets worse with advancement of disease. This trouble in breathing may be caused by growth of tumor, disease complications, secondary infection or some other cancer treatment. The degree of shortness of breath can vary and some people may experience it with physical activity.
Causes of Shortness of Breath
Blocked Airways: If the lung tumor grows into or presses against the airway, it makes difficult to get enough air in and out of the body. This results in shortness of breath.
Low Oxygen Levels: Lung cancer can decrease the number of red blood cells in the blood which are responsible for pumping oxygen from lungs to the heart and rest of the body.
Growth of Tumor: The growth of tumor inside the lung is also one of the causes behind shortness of breath.
Lung Infections: Lung infections are common with lung cancer and shortness of breath is one of the issues being faced by patients.
Manage Shortness of Breath
One can manage shortness of breath via various breathing exercises but if it increases, there are a number of lab tests and imaging studies that your doctor may consider.
Lab Tests: The first step usually involves checking your oxygen saturation levels. They measure the acidity and levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in blood sample.
Imaging Studies: The imaging tests like Chest X-Ray or CT scan may also be carried out to find any evidence of obstruction or effusion. Then, MRI or PET scan may be ordered where progression of cancer is suspected.
The best way is to get a clear idea of the degree of dyspnea so that the best care is delivered. The treatment is focused on reducing shortness of breath and treating the underlying cause. It is always advisable to consult your doctor for any health issues you face.
The information shared in this blog is for educational purposes only.