As with many diseases, patient outcomes are most favorable when cancers are detected in the early stages; before spreading. Lung cancer is known as one of the most serious and common types of cancer in the U.S., precisely because patients often have no noticeable symptoms until it has advanced and spread to other parts of the body.
It is of extreme importance to, first, know what the warning signs are for various cancers and, second, to act quickly as soon as any warning signs appear. For example, a persistent cough could be a sign of cancer if it lingers for two or three weeks.
Common Lung Cancer Symptoms
Some common lung cancer symptoms can include, but are not limited to:
- A long-lasting cough that gets worse
- Coughing up blood
- Chest infections that keep coming back
- A pain or ache when breathing or coughing
- Persistent lack of energy
- Persistent breathlessness
- Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
Uncommon Lung Cancer Symptoms
Less common symptoms are known to include:
- Changes in the look of your fingers, such as their tips becoming larger or becoming more curved (this is also known as finger clubbing)
- Pain when swallowing or difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Swelling of your neck, face or arms
- Persistent shoulder or chest pain
- Feeling weak
- Lung infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis that won’t go away
- Wheezing or hoarseness
Advanced stages of lung cancer are often recognized by the spread of cancer to other locations in the body. This may affect the liver, bones or brain. Since other parts of the body are affected too, new cancer symptoms can develop, including:
- Bone pain
- Dizziness, headaches or limbs that become numb or weak
- Lumps in the collarbone region or neck
What to Do if You Think You Might Have Lung Cancer: Don’t Ignore the Signs
See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. During the visit, expect your doctor to ask you about your symptoms and your general health. Then they will examine you and probably ask you to breathe into a spirometer, a device that measures how much air you can breathe in and out. Your doctor may also order a blood test to rule out some of the possible causes of your symptoms, including a chest infection.
Although most of these lung cancer symptoms can be caused by something else, it’s essential to pay attention to your body and how you’re feeling and see a doctor if you notice any persistent changes. Understanding when symptoms could be a sign of something more serious and confirming a previous diagnosis or diagnosing the disease requires expertise from specialists experienced and trained in treating lung cancer. Discovering cancer early usually means more treatment options will be available to you.
More than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists. We encourage you to call us, ask us a question, or consult with us to get a second opinion so you, too, can experience the difference.