ISLAMABAD: Pneumonia and lung cancer both occur in the lungs and share a number of overlapping symptoms.
Pneumonia is a lung infection commonly caused by bacteria, a virus, or a fungus. Lung cancer is a harmful tumor often caused by smoking tobacco.
Telling pneumonia and lung cancer apart can be difficult at times as there is an overlap of some of the symptoms. Typically, the symptoms of lung cancer are the more severe.
Diagnosis of pneumonia may involve a physical examination to check for swollen glands, abnormal breathing, or a high temperature. A diagnosis will often be confirmed using a blood test or an X-ray to show any fluid buildup in the lungs.
Treating pneumonia will vary according to the type of pneumonia and the person's general health. In most cases, pneumonia can be treated at home with plenty of fluids, rest, and medication.
In more severe cases, hospital treatment may be required so fluids and antibiotics can be given intravenously. Oxygen therapy or breathing assistance may also be required.
Diagnosing lung cancer can be more difficult. A chest X-ray can provide a quick and simple check, but a computerised tomography (CT) scan is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
If lung cancer is confirmed, further tests may be carried out including a positron emission tomography-CT (PET-CT) scan to locate all the cancerous cells.
A biopsy will also be conducted, whereby a small tissue sample is taken from the lungs and examined under a microscope.
The majority of pneumonia cases are not considered severe, although the illness is serious.
The length of time symptoms may last depends on the individual's health and the type of pneumonia it is.
Bacterial pneumonia symptoms will typically go away after 1-3 weeks. Mycoplasma pneumonia can take 4-6 weeks, and viral pneumonia can last even longer.
If pneumonia is left untreated, vital organs like the heart and brain may not receive enough oxygen. The consequence of this can be confusion, coma, heart failure or even death.
The outlook for lung cancer tends to be the more severe regardless of treatment.
If the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage there is a chance it can be surgically removed while it is small and has not spread. This gives a good chance of recovery.
However, many patients with lung cancer are diagnosed after the cancer has already spread. In these cases, removing it is unlikely. Treatments will instead focus on limiting it progression and alleviating the symptoms.