Thoracic cancer affects the structures, organs, and glands in your chest (thoracic cavity). Common types of thoracic cancers include lung cancer, thymus cancer, pleural cancer, and esophageal cancer.
A diagnosis of cancer is frightening, but at Dignity Health Central California, our goal is to return you to a healthy life as quickly and comfortably as possible. Our board-certified oncologists use the latest treatments, including radiation therapy, infusion therapy, and chemotherapy, and monitor you every step of the way.
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What Causes Thoracic Cancer?
No one knows why some people get cancer and other’s don't. However, doctors do know that certain things can increase your risk of developing cancer. For example, if someone in your family has had lung cancer, you may be at a higher risk of developing it yourself. Lifestyle factors may also increase your risk of developing thoracic cancer. Smoking increases the risk of esophageal cancer and is the cause of 90 percent of lung cancers.
Thoracic Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms of thoracic cancer depend on the tissue affected, the type of cancer, and whether it has spread to nearby tissues. Many times early stages of thoracic cancer do not cause symptoms, so the disease is often diagnosed in later stages when it’s harder to treat.
When symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Changes in a chronic cough or “smoker’s cough”
- A new cough that gets worse with time or doesn’t go away
- Coughing up rust-colored mucus or blood
- Chest pain that worsens when laughing, coughing, or breathing deeply
- Vomiting, indigestion, or heartburn
- Wheezing, shortness of breath, or other breathing problems
- Loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss
These symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer. It’s important to see your doctor for accurate diagnosis.
Thoracic Cancer Treatment at Dignity Health Central California
Your treatment options for thoracic cancer depend on the type of cancer, and may include:
- Surgery to remove the affected organ or tumors
- Targeted therapy to destroy cancer by using markers present only on cancer cells
- Chemotherapy medicines to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing
- Radiation therapy to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors
You may be able to help prevent cancer by understanding and changing any risk factors under your control. This includes adjusting lifestyle habits such as your diet, quitting smoking, and moderating alcohol use. However, it’s still possible to develop thoracic cancer even if you don’t have any known risk factors. Talk to your doctor about how we can help lower your risk and care for your entire well-being.
Dignity Health Central California offers comprehensive care for thoracic cancer in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.