CureSearch for Children's Cancer funds and supportstargeted and innovative children's cancer research with measurableresults, and is the authoritative source of information and resourcesfor all those affected by children's cancer.
The lungs supply needed oxygen to the body. But treatment for childhood cancer can sometimes damage the lungs. Here is what you need to know to assess your risk for lung problems and to help keep your lungs healthy.
If you had any of the following cancer treatments, you may be at risk for developing lung problems.
Other factors that can increase your risk for lung problems are:
Lung problems that can develop as a result of these treatments include scarring of the lungs, repeated lung infections, swelling of the lung tissue and airways, rupture of the air sacs in the lungs, and thickening and blockage of the airways in the lungs.
Symptoms of lung problems may include:
Fatigue or shortness of breath during mild exercise is sometimes an early symptom of lung damage.
There are many ways to help lower your chance for lung problems, including talking with your doctor, not smoking, and adopting a healthy lifestyle.
See Your Doctor
As a childhood cancer survivor you should have a health check-up every year. In addition, you should undergo a chest x-ray and pulmonary function tests at least two years after you finish your cancer treatment to check for any lung problems. Further testing may be needed based on the results of the tests.
If you are at risk for lung problems, talk with your doctor about getting pneumonia and flu vaccines. Also, you should avoid SCUBA diving until you have a complete check-up and are told by a lung doctor (pulmonologist) that it is safe for you.
The most important lifestyle change that you can make is to not smoke. Family, friends, and your doctor are great resources for quitting.
To request information by phone on how to quit smoking, call these organizations:
Visit these websites for online information on how to quit smoking:
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
Other lifestyle changes that can help prevent lung problems include these:
You can find more information on the lungs and how to keep them healthy from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's website at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/.
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