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Forum Name: Lung Cancer

Question: Blood

 dv - Sat Feb 18, 2006 7:54 am

I consider myself a non-regular smoker. I usually smoke 1 or 2 cigarrettes a week and i´m trying to reduce them to none. I´m a 20 year old male and the fact that i´ve been experiencing some pain on the chest when i contract my torso (but not always) and having spotted some blood on my sputum(i think that is the word) is really worrying me. I haven´t been to a doctor with the symptoms but i´m hoping i could get some pointers.

I have no past diagnoses of related or even major diseases and no past surgeries althought my grandparent suffered from lung cancer because we was a heavy smoker.
 Dr. A. De la Guerra - Tue Feb 21, 2006 1:38 am

User avatar Hi dv,

Coughing up blood is known as hemoptysis; it refers specifically to blood that comes from the lower respiratory tract, below the vocal cords (trachea, bronchus and lungs). Sometimes this is confused with bleeding from the mouth, nose, throat, or gastrointestinal tract. When blood originates outside the respiratory tract is known as pseudohemoptysis (false hemoptysis). Thus, the first problem is to determine the source of the bleeding.

Hemoptysis can have many causes, including infections, heart diseases, cancer, and vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation). In addition, causes differ greatly depending on geographic settings. For example, in the USA the most common causes of hemoptysis in adults are bronchitis and lung cancer, and least common is tuberculosis. On the other hand, tuberculosis is the leading cause of hemoptysis in developing countries.

There are many factors that have to be evaluated to get to the cause of your problem and rule out its seriousness. This evaluation has to be completed by a doctor based on your medical history, a physical examination, x-rays, etc. Although, I can tell you that blood-streaked sputum in a healthy young person usually indicates an infection and is generally no cause for concern.

If the blood comes from the respiratory tract, a chest x-ray must be done. To determine this, I strongly suggest you to see a doctor. Beware, usually, hemoptysis stops momentarily, which does not excludes the possibility that a serious illness may be present, and still requires medical evaluation.


Dr. Alberto de la Guerra


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