Detecting lung cancer by noting early warning signs and symptoms

Michael George

Early detection is crucial for a cure, and the older you are the more chance you have of lung cancer becoming your enemy.
Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

Many people with lung cancer show no signs or symptoms at the early stages of cancer development. But by looking back at what symptoms people diagnosed with lung cancer have reported, we can gain insight into some early warning signs people at high risk for lung cancer can look out for.

But it also may mean that what you're experiencing is not lung cancer after all. To be sure of the cause, talk to your doctor if you’re at high risk for lung cancer and have some of the symptoms.

This article will cover the symptoms that can serve as early warning signs for lung cancer, symptoms of more advanced lung cancers, and when to see a doctor about your symptoms.

So what are the symptoms of lung cancer? Here are some, and if you or your loved ones are suffering from any of these, please visit your doctor to rule out anything serious. There are many other reasons you may be suffering from these symptoms, but remember, if it is lung cancer, early treatment is crucial.

Persistent Cough

Your body induces itself to cough in order to protect any particles from entering your airways and the lungs. A cough that doesn’t go away or worsens into a chronic cough, is one of the most common symptoms of lung cancer. If you are coughing up blood or rust-colored spit/phlegm, see your doctor immediately.

Shortness of Breath

This symptom, especially in older folk or those leading a sedentary life, often will be dismissed as not being so fit anymore, or simply getting older. If you are having difficulty climbing stairs, or if simple tasks make you out of breath, it may be time for a checkup.

Chest Pain

If you have pain in your chest, it could indicate that there are blockages in your lungs, such as tumors, enlarged lymph nodes, or fluid buildup. Take note if the chest pain often is worse when you breathe deeply, cough, or laugh. Pay attention to whether the pain is sharp, dull, constant, or intermittent. See your doctor if you have chest pain that gets worse when breathing deeply, coughing, or laughing.

Hoarse Voice

Colds and flu can leave you with a hoarse or raspy voice for a week or two, but if the change in your vocal cords has been going on longer than that, it may be caused by a tumor affecting the nerves to your vocal cords.

Bone Pain

Have you been experiencing mysterious aches and pains? It may be difficult to distinguish between bone and muscle pain, but take note if your pain increases: with movement, at night, or while lying on your back. Lung cancer less commonly causes pain in the shoulders, arms, and neck. Bone pain as a result of lung cancer may be caused by metastasis into the bones, especially the spine, pelvis, and upper bones of the arms and legs.

Unexplained Weight loss

Lung cancer may cause you to lose your appetite, which can lead to unintentional weight loss. However, there are many other issues that can cause weight loss. A visit to the doctor may identify the cause, but you should not just ignore it.

There may be other symptoms if cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. These include jaundice, bone pain, changes in the nervous system, and skin lumps.

Remember, catching lung cancer in its early stages gives you a better chance of surviving, so tell your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms, or if you are worried you might have this disease.

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Michael George has her BSc (Hons.) Degree in Neuroscience, and is the owner and founder at Promellu.

Washington, DC

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