What If Lung Cancer is Detected?
Blood tests. Blood tests should measure levels of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, chloride, and bicarbonate), indicators of liver function (aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, prothrombin time, bilirubin, and alkaline phosphatase), and level of lactate dehydrogenase.
A complete blood count will determine most of these values. However, the prothrombin time is a separate test that measures how quickly the blood clots. A prolonged prothrombin time, in the absence of vitamin K deficiency, and an elevated D-dimer level are associated with a poor outcome after surgery for lung cancer (Ferrigno D et al 2001; Kostecka IA et al 2000). An elevated alkaline phosphatase level suggests cancer spread to the bone. Blood tests can be performed via National Diagnostics: http://www.lef.org/bloodtest/.
What You Have Learned So Far
- Smoking is the major cause of lung cancer; thus, most lung cancers are preventable.
- Genetics, secondhand smoke, human papillomavirus infection, an unhealthy diet, and exposure to chemicals, heavy metals, and radon gas cause lung cancer in nonsmokers.
- All these risk factors are modifiable.
- Symptoms include worsening or chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing up blood, back pain, and weight loss.
- Tests for lung cancer include sputum sample, chest x-ray, and computed tomography lung scanning, but a biopsy is needed for diagnosis.
- In the past 50 years, the five-year survival rate for lung cancer has not improved significantly.
- A healthy lifestyle and diet (citrus fruits, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, cantaloupes, and sweet potatoes), in addition to supplementation with folate and vitamin B12, may help prevent lung cancer.