Lung cancer symptoms

November 12, 2012

Lung cancer symptoms

As with many cancers, the survival rate for patients with lung cancer is greatly improved when the disease is caught in its earliest stages – however around 50% of those receiving a lung cancer diagnosis are found to have an advanced stage of the disease and have only a 10% chance of surviving for five years. Those patients receiving an early diagnosis stage one have between 60% and 80% of surviving for longer than five years. These statistics show the importance of early detection – and this comes from recognising lung cancer symptoms in their earliest stages.

Non-smokers must be just as aware of lung cancer symptoms as are smokers – 15% of all cases of the disease are found in those who have never smoked and around 50% of cases occur in ex-smokers.

Persistent cough

It is all too easy to dismiss a persistent cough – many people put it down to allergies, dry air, or a recent cold. However, a cough that persists for several weeks can be indicative of a serious, underlying medical problem and should be investigated.

Many patients with any existing medical condition that causes coughing may also dismiss a cough as being nothing to worry about – these conditions include the following -

  • Asthma

  • COPD

  • Allergies

  • Gastroesohageal reflux

However, anyone with a cough that persists for a number of weeks should seek medical advice – particularly if blood appears in the sputum – no matter how small the amount, both a persistent cough and blood in the sputum are common early lung cancer symptoms.

Unusual shortness of breath

Shortness of breath associated with physical activity is often overlooked – many people assume it is the result of aging, lack of fitness or extra weight. However, unusual shortness of breath connected to normal activity may be a lung cancer symptom and should be investigated by your medical practitioner.

Pain or discomfort in the upper body

It is quite possible for lung cancer symptoms to appear before a persistent cough or breathlessness – pain in the shoulder, neck, chest, or arm may be the result of the cancer compressing the nerves in the affected area. Unexpected, persistent pain in any of these areas should be referred to your medical professional – around 50% of lung cancer patients report pain or discomfort in their chest or shoulder, this pain often increases when coughing or breathing.

Repeated, persistent bronchial infections

Many lung cancer patients discover they have the disease as a result of being treated for multiple episodes of bronchial infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis. A tumour located near an air passage may cause an obstruction making infection more likely. Repeated infections may also be caused by tobacco use or COPD – nevertheless, they should be investigated fully as they may be indicative of lung cancer.

A general decline in health accompanied by unusual symptoms

Most of us know and understand our own body better than anyone – therefore if we notice any unusual changes or symptoms they should be brought to the attention of our medical practitioner, this is especially true for smokers. It is quite possible for the smallest, most insignificant of symptoms to be related to lung cancer –

  • Unexpected knee pain
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Depression

Leading cause of death

Lung cancer is the leading cause of deaths related to cancer in the U.S – in both men and women. This statistic shows the importance of recognising the early symptoms of the disease – whilst remembering that, upon diagnosis, as many as 25% of lung cancer patients present with no symptoms at all. In these patients, the condition is discovered during routine testing for another medical condition. There is currently no available screening for lung cancer – something it is hoped will change in the near future.

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