Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer affecting nearly 402,326 Americans today. It also has one of the highest mortality rates and accounts for 27% of all deaths caused by cancer.
As with any cancer, early detection is crucial for successful treatment. That’s why it’s important to know the early signs this cancer gives, and in case some become more obvious, to discuss them with your doctor immediately.
8 Warning Signs of Lung Cancer
- A Persistent Cough
Although coughing is one of the most prominent symptoms of common colds and flu, it can also indicate lung cancer, especially if it’s persistent and doesn’t stop or improve in 2 weeks or more.
- Changes in Cough
Cough that changes in sound and becomes painful also requires medical attention. Coughing up blood or expelling large quantities of green or rust-colored mucus is another red alert.
- Breathing Difficulty
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing can indicate lung cancer because lung tumors can reduce airflow in the airways or lead to fluid accumulation around the lung. This in turn creates a feeling of constantly out of breath even when performing regular everyday activities.
- Chest Pain
Chest pain can vary in intensity from persistent and sharp to dull and sporadic. It’s usually accompanied by coughing and back pain. Aside from lung cancer, chest pain can also indicate other serious medical conditions. Whatever the cause, this symptom requires urgent medical attention.
This symptom occurs during exhalation when airways are restricted, which is typical of lung cancer development and inflammation. However, wheezing can also indicate less serious respiratory issues including inflamed sinuses or excess mucus production.
- Raspy, Hoarse Voice
When the lung tumor starts to affect the function of the larynx, it leads to hoarse voice. It’s highly recommended to find the cause of this condition, especially if it’s accompanied by coughing up blood.
- Unexplained Weight Loss
Dramatic weight loss in a short period of time is invariably a symptom of a serious health issue, particularly if it’s accompanied by fatigue and weakness. This doesn’t include normal fluctuations in weight. However, losing 10 pounds of weight without making any changes in nutrition or workout routine is almost always one of the earliest warning signs of cancer. This happens as a result of metabolic changes triggered by the needs of cancer cells, which require a lot of energy.
- Bone Pain
When lung cancer has spread to the bones, a person is likely to experience bone pain, especially one affecting the spine, the large bones of the thigh, the pelvic bones, the ribs, and the shoulders. This symptom also requires urgent medical attention.