Lungs are an important part of the human respiratory system which is a group of tissues and organs that work together to help us breathe. The whole respiratory system functions together to move fresh air inside and eliminate waste gases outside. Every time you breathe, this process is happening. Our lungs keep us breathing, and also all other organs functioning. That is why it’s essential to keep your lungs healthy.

Apart from this gas exchange, our respiratory system also performs other significant functions rather than breathing. These include:

  •         Bringing inhaled air to the proper body temperature and moisturizing it to the right humidity level.
  •         Protecting the human body from harmful substances through coughing, sneezing, filtering, or swallowing them.
  •         Supporting a sense of smell in humans.

Unfortunately, there are several risk factors both external as well as internal that contribute to health complications to our lungs. You must visit a lung surgeon Singapore to get your lungs checked to ensure your lungs are disease-free. Moreover, you can gain knowledge about the alarming signals indicating that there is something wrong with your lungs.

Unhealthy lungs could create a problem for an individual as it can be harder to get the proper oxygen that every cell needs in your body.  There are many such conditions in which your lungs don’t work in the way they should mainly due to diseased conditions as a result of which you start experiencing breathing problems. Some such serious diseased conditions include:

LUNG CANCER

Lung cancer occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of cells forming tumours within the lungs. It is one of the deadliest types of cancer which starts from the lung tissues and then spreads to the entire organ.

Unfortunately, signs and symptoms are rarely visible in the early stages of the disease. It will start appearing only when the disease has progressed to its advanced stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  •         Cough that doesn’t go away
  •         Blood in cough, even a small amount [Hemoptysis]
  •         Shortness of breath
  •         Chest pain
  •         Hoarseness
  •         Weight loss
  •         Bone pain
  •         Headache

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you must seek advice from a lung surgeon Singapore immediately.  

PLEURAL EFFUSION

There is a thin space between the lung and chest cavity which contains a fluid. This fluid acts as a lubricant between the lungs and the chest cavity during breathing. Pleural Effusion translates to the collection of fluid in the space between the lungs and a chest cavity that restricts lung expansion.

There are essentially three types of pleural effusion.

  • Transudative: In this type, pleural fluid transudes through the walls of intact pulmonary vessels. It is caused due to:

o   Heart Failure

o   Pulmonary embolism

o   Cirrhosis

o   Post open heart surgery

  •  In this type, pleural fluid escapes (exudes) through lesions in blood and lymph vessels. It is caused due to:

o   Pneumonia

o   Cancer

o   Pulmonary embolism

o   Kidney disease

o   Inflammatory disease

o   Tuberculosis

o   Autoimmune disease

  • Lymphatic: In this type, lymphatic vessels are not able to drain the fluid efficiently. It is caused due to:

o   Damage to the thoracic duct

o   Tumours that press against the thoracic duct

Symptoms of Pleural Diffusion are highly dependent on the rigorousness of the effusion. If there is a small effusion, it would go generally unobserved while a larger effusion may cause significant pain and discomfort. Some common symptoms are:

  •         Chest pain
  •         Dry and non-productive cough
  •         Dyspnea
  •         Orthopnea

Video-assisted thoracic surgery is the best treatment for Pleural Diffusion. 2-3 keyhole incisions are made in the chest followed by the draining of fluid. There are a few lung specialists in Singapore who perform thoracic surgery to treat pleural diffusion.

PNEUMOTHORAX

Pneumothorax is the medical term used for a collapsed lung that causes air to find its way into the pleural space which is the space between the lungs and the chest cavity.

Traumatic Pneumothorax occurs as a result of a traumatic incident.

Spontaneous Pneumothorax is a common form of pneumothorax that happens without any cause.

Symptoms of Pneumothorax can vary from mild to life-threatening. Some common symptoms include:

  •         Chest Pain
  •         Shortness of breath
  •         Coughing
  •         Fatigue
  •         Fast Breathing
  •         Rapid Heartbeat

Pneumothorax can be investigated through a chest X-ray, CT Scan, or Ultrasound. Though it can be treated through a conservative approach and Thoracostomy, but those with a severe condition, lung surgeon Singapore suggests Video-assisted thoracic surgery.

OESOPHAGEAL CANCER

The Oesophagus is a long, muscular organ that is made up of multiple layers of muscles, connecting the mouth to the stomach and also pushing food into the stomach. Oesophageal Cancer occurs when the cells in your mouth multiply in an uncontrolled manner which later forms a tumour.

There are two main types of oesophageal cancer:

  •         Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  •         Adenocarcinoma

The exact cause of oesophageal cancer is unknown, but there are several risk factors like:

  •         Older age: It is common in people older than 60 years.
  •         Male gender: Men are more likely to develop this cancer than women.
  •         Ethnicity: Squamous cell oesophageal cancer occurs more in African Americans and Asians.
  •         Tobacco use
  •         Alcohol use
  •         Barrett’s oesophagus and chronic acid reflux
  •         Human Papilloma Virus
  •         Occupational exposure to certain chemicals
  •         People with a history of cancer

Common symptoms of oesophageal cancer:

  •         Pain in the throat or back, between the shoulder blades & behind the breastbone
  •         Vomiting or coughing up blood
  •         Heartburn
  •         Hoarseness or chronic cough
  •         Unintentional weight loss

A lung surgeon Singapore will conduct a series of physical tests coupled with different lab tests to diagnose the condition.

  •         Barium Swallow
  •         Oesophagoscopy
  •         Biopsy
  •         Oesophageal Endoscopic Ultrasound
  •         CT Scan
  •         PET CT Scan

THYMOMA & THYMIC CARCINOMA

Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma are two different types of cancers that are rare and develop in the cells in the outside surface of the thymus gland. The thymus gland functions until puberty then involutes and disappears. If it persists, it can develop a tumour called “Thymoma”.

90% of thymus cancers are Thymomas, while 10% of them can be Thymic Carcinoma, Lymphomas, or Carcinoid tumours. More than 25% of Thymoma & Thymic Carcinoma are asymptomatic. They are typically detected through:

  •         Chest X-Ray
  •         CT Scan
  •         PET CT Scan
  •         MRI Scan

The treatment of this cancer is generally based on the stage of the disease. Otherwise, some of the possible treatments include:

  •         Surgery
  •         Radiotherapy
  •         Chemotherapy
  •         Immunotherapy

You should request an appointment with a lung specialist to make clear investigations in your case.

MYASTHENIA GRAVIS

Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disease that results in muscle weakness which gets worse with physical activity. It is commonly found in men above the age of 60 and women below the age of 30.

Patients with MG usually experience weakness of the eye muscles which may spread to other muscles in the body with time. The symptoms include:

  •         Drooping of the eyelids (ptosis)
  •         Blurred or double vision
  •         Unstable or “waddling” gait
  •         Weakness in the arms or legs
  •         Difficulty swallowing
  •         Difficulty breathing
  •         Difficulty speaking clearly

MG gets severe within hours or days from the initial symptoms which tend to worsen with time. If left untreated, it can ultimately affect the ability of a person to swallow or breathe making it life-threatening.

MESOTHELIOMA

Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare form of cancer that occurs because of asbestos exposure. It can occur in the thin layer of tissue lining the chest cavity and covering the lungs or in the peritoneum which lines the abdomen and the internal organs.

Asbestos is used in manufacturing units in which brake pads, vinyl tiles, roofing material, and some cement piping are made. Asbestos is also released during mining.

Just like other diseased conditions, symptoms of mesothelioma are rarely shown in the early stages. Some symptoms visible in late stages are:

  •         Shortness of breath
  •         Pain under the rib cage
  •         Pain or swelling in the abdomen (belly)
  •         Lumps in the abdomen
  •         Weight loss

Experts investigate this type of cancer through different methods like:

  •         Physical Exam And History
  •         CT Scan
  •         PET Scan
  •         Biopsy
  •         Bronchoscopy
  •         Cytology

A multi-disciplinary approach needs to be followed by an experienced team to treat mesothelioma which usually consists of a combination of Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation that yields the best results.

CHEST WALL & RIB ABNORMALITIES

Chest wall tumours are highly uncommon but when they do occur, they can cause a problem to diagnose and treat.  These can be categorised into two forms:

  • Benign which is non-cancerous and does not spread to the rest of the body.
  • Malignant which is a cancerous form and will spread to the rest of the body.

Finding the source of origin of the chest wall tumour can also be difficult to locate as there are so many muscles, bones, and tissues within the chest wall from where it could have originated. If there are abnormalities in the ribs, these can also manifest as chest wall tumours, painful fractures, or just a secondary finding.

The symptoms of chest wall tumours or rib abnormalities are as follows:

  •         Asymptomatic lesions
  •         Painless Swelling
  •         Incidental finding when screening for other Lesions
  •         Muscle Atrophy
  •         Impaired movement of the Chest wall

The possible treatments for chest wall tumours or rib abnormalities include Surgery For Rib Abnormalities, Rib Plates, and Surgery For Chest Wall Tumours.

CONCLUSION

These are a few lung-related diseases for which you might need to consult lung surgeon Singapore who offers a full range of thoracic services including surgery for the lungs, oesophagus, and chest wall. Choosing an experienced and qualified specialist who is trained to perform Robotic Thoracic Surgery with precision and control can prove beneficial.

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