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The lungs are important organs responsible for supplying oxygen to the body and ridding it of carbon dioxide. Sometimes, treatments given for children’s cancer can cause lung damage. If you received any treatments that have the potential to cause lung problems, it is important to learn about the lungs and what you can do to keep them healthy.
In order for oxygen to reach the blood, it must move through tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs and into tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that surround each air sac. When the air sacs become damaged or scarred, there is less area for oxygen to enter the bloodstream, causing less oxygen to reach the blood. This may cause a person to breathe fast in order to get enough oxygen, which can make someone feel short of breath. Other lung problems can be caused by inflammation (swelling) of the air passages in the lungs or increased mucous production as a result of irritation or infection. Symptoms can include cough, wheezing, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
If you received any of the following treatments during your cancer therapy, you may be at risk for developing lung problems:
Other factors that may increase your risk are:
Problems can include scarring of the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis), repeated lung infections (such as chronic bronchitis or recurrent pneumonia), rupture of the tiny air sacs in the lungs, or thickening and blockage of air passages within the lungs (restrictive/obstructive lung disease).
Symptoms may include shortness of breath, frequent coughing and/or wheezing, chest pain, and frequent lung infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Becoming easily fatigued or short of breath during mild exercise (exercise intolerance) is sometimes an early symptom of lung damage.
If you have had any of the treatments listed above you should:
Your most important resources for quitting smoking are your family, friends, and your healthcare provider. Listed below are some additional sources of education and support: