December 6, 2023

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How to Prevent and Treat Common Complications of Lung Cancer?

How to Prevent and Treat Common Complications of Lung Cancer?

How to Prevent and Treat Common Complications of Lung Cancer?

Let cancer dormant permanently and become chronic diseases

Pleural Effusion:

Managing pleural effusion involves the gradual removal of fluid from the pleural cavity by making a small incision in the chest and inserting a tube to guide the fluid out. After fluid removal, patients still need to be hospitalized for observation. If pleural effusion recurs, further treatment is required.

In addition to this, patients with pleural effusion can also undergo the following treatments:

A. Pleurodesis (Adhesion): Inducing sterile inflammation in the pleura ultimately leads to adhesion between the pleura and the lung, preventing fluid accumulation.

B. Thoracoscopy: Further examination of complications.

Lung Infections:

Recent scientific investigations have shown a continuous rise in the incidence of lung cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization reported in 2018 that lung cancer accounted for 18.4% of cancer-related deaths, making it the leading cause of cancer mortality. However, true lung cancer, caused by the deterioration of tumors, accounts for only a third of cases. The primary cause is, in fact, lung infections. Various factors make late-stage lung cancer patients susceptible to lung infections, and early preventive measures should be taken. (Sometimes, lung infections can be even more terrifying than lung cancer, and early prevention can improve patient survival.)

Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) and Pulmonary Embolism:

Venous thromboembolism (VTE), including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, is a common complication and the second leading cause of death in cancer patients.

Both the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) guidelines recommend VTE prevention in hospitalized cancer patients.

However, research data on malignant tumor patients with VTE might be limited in some countries, and clinical physicians lack sufficient knowledge and experience.

In visible clinical studies, one study showed that plasma levels of fibrinogen and D-dimer were higher in lung cancer patients, especially after chemotherapy, and prophylactic administration of low-molecular-weight heparin could reduce thrombosis in lung cancer patients with minimal impact on platelet levels and bleeding.

Management of Hemoptysis (Coughing Up Blood):

The management of hemoptysis primarily involves calming the patient, providing rest, and symptomatic treatment.

For mild hemoptysis: Maintain absolute rest, no specific treatment is required, bed rest; take 10 mg of brown syrup orally three times a day (under the guidance of a doctor); monitor the condition.

For moderate hemoptysis: Careful observation, comforting the patient, having the patient lie on the affected side, and elevating the foot of the bed. Patients with cardiovascular diseases should be in a semi-sitting position to keep the airway clear, making it easier to cough up blood.

For severe hemoptysis: The patient should remain in bed, preferably on the affected side, to minimize blood flow toward the healthy lung. If the bleeding site cannot be identified, temporary supine position may be necessary. For those who are anxious and restless, a small amount of sedative may be used if necessary. Patients with severe coughing may be given cough suppressants as needed.

Bone Metastases:

Widespread bone metastases in advanced lung cancer patients are a major cause of hypercalcemia. Therefore, preventing and early diagnosing bone metastases are essential for treatment. For suspected lung cancer patients with bone metastases, the following tests are recommended to help confirm the diagnosis:

a. Radionuclide bone scans. b. PET-CT scans for eligible patients; ECT scans for patients with symptoms but negative PET-CT scans. c. X-rays/CT/MRI scans. d. Patients should also undergo biochemical tests, including complete blood cell count, creatinine, electrolytes, liver function, and serum calcium.

Cardiac Complications:

Due to the tumor’s effect, fluid can compress blood vessels, leading to cardiac complications. One of the treatment methods is pericardiocentesis, which involves draining fluid with a needle. However, this procedure carries some risks and should be performed under electrocardiogram monitoring for safety. Creating a pericardial window to prevent fluid re-accumulation is another approach, which involves surgically removing part of the fluid sac around the heart, allowing the fluid to drain into the abdomen or chest.

Spinal Cord Injury:

The bronchial artery anastomoses with the spinal artery, and chemotherapy drugs for lung cancer can damage the spinal cord or cause edema of the spinal cord root arteries. Symptoms of transverse spinal cord injury usually occur several hours after surgery.

Preventive measures:

  1. Dilute anticancer drugs sufficiently before slow injection.

  2. Instruct the patient to actively move the lower limbs or puncture the skin up and down for 15 to 30 minutes to check for abnormal sensations.

  3. Observe for urinary retention.

  4. Have vasodilators ready.

Shoulder, Chest, or Back Pain:

Pain in the back in lung cancer patients may indicate the possibility of bone metastasis. Chest CT scans are recommended in such cases. Confirmation often requires bone scans. Pain management is mainly achieved through the use of pain relief medications.

Cancer pain should be treated according to the principles of comprehensive treatment. Depending on the patient’s condition and physical state, effective pain management methods should be applied to eliminate pain, prevent and control adverse drug reactions, and reduce the psychological burden caused by pain and treatment, with the aim of maximizing the patient’s quality of life.

According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) three-step analgesic ladder for cancer pain, the following five basic principles should be followed in cancer pain medication management: oral administration, stepwise administration, scheduled administration, individualized administration, and attention to specific details to enhance care.


Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet can be treated with medication. Complications of neuropathy in lung cancer can cause discomfort.

There are many methods to treat the symptoms of neuropathy, including pain relief medication, antidepressants, and antiepileptic drugs.

Fever and Gastrointestinal Reactions:

If the body temperature does not exceed 39°C, physical or pharmacological cooling can be performed. When nausea and vomiting are severe, intramuscular injection of metoclopramide 10 mg or intravenous injection of ondansetron 8 mg can be given (treatment must be carried out under a doctor’s guidance). When vomiting, tilt the patient’s head to one side to avoid aspiration and choking. Observe the nature, color, and quantity of vomit and record it. Comfort the patient to keep them relaxed.


Lung cancer is not a single disease but a category of diseases.

The specific conditions of each lung cancer patient vary, so it’s essential to understand the symptoms of disease progression and related complications as much as possible.

Being well-prepared to address disease progression, early detection, and early treatment are critical for achieving a longer survival period.

What Are the Top 10 Complications of Lung Cancer?

How to Prevent and Treat Common Complications of Lung Cancer?

(source:internet, reference only)

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Important Note: The information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice.