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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
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
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
American Cancer Society: 1-800-ACS-2345
American Heart Association: 1-800-AHA-USA1
American Lung Association: 1-800-LUNG-USA
National Cancer Institute: 1-877-44U-QUIT
Visit these websites for online information on how to quit
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
Other lifestyle changes that can help prevent lung problems
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/.
Read more about Lung Health...