Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women (one in four). The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the more effective treatment is, so see your doctor if you notice any of the following lung cancer symptoms.
Coughing up blood
“Coughing up blood is never a good sign. See your doctor right away,” says Raja Flores, M.D., MD, professor of thoracic surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. should be tested, he said.
Consider new and persistent chest, back, or shoulder pain. You may notice a tightness or sharp pain when you take a deep breath, cough, or laugh. “There is pain where the tumor is,” says Dr. Flores. “If the tumor is on the side, you get side pain. If it goes to the back of the chest, you get back pain.” Any chest pain should see a doctor, he said. Chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack.
Coughing can be caused by something as simple as allergies, a cold, or watering down the wrong hose. But if your cough never goes away, it could be a sign of a more serious condition, such as lung cancer. “Cancer in the airways can irritate your throat and cause you to cough,” says Dr. Flores. “There’s something there that shouldn’t be there, and your body is trying to get rid of it.” Cancer also produces mucus, which makes the cough worse.
Shortness of breath
If you suddenly feel winded after climbing the stairs, or walk every day causing shortness of breath, this could be a sign of lung cancer. “Shortness of breath can be caused by a tumor blocking the airways. It can also be caused by a buildup of fluid in the chest, pushing it into the lungs and causing a lack of air,” says Dr. Flores. When the lungs aren’t getting enough air when they’re fully inflated, he says, difficulty breathing while sitting or lying down can also be a sign of a more complicated condition.
If you feel tired but there is no change in your daily routine, it could be a sign of cancer. “It may not indicate lung cancer specifically, but it’s a clear red flag that something’s wrong,” Dr. Flores said. Weight loss and loss of appetite are symptoms of lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Smoking, family history of cancer, and exposure to asbestos increase the risk of lung cancer.
Diagnosis of asthma
Having asthma does not guarantee lung cancer. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with asthma since childhood, it’s a good idea to get screened for lung cancer, says Dr. Flores. “It’s an unusual symptom, but if you’re a young adult or older and have just been diagnosed with asthma, it’s something you should keep in mind,” he said. “Pulmonologists listen to your lungs, listen for wheezing, and treat it as asthma; But it’s worth getting tested to make sure there aren’t any tumors that could be causing the blockage.”
General body aches
Because lung cancer often has no symptoms until it is late, it is not diagnosed until it has spread to other parts of the body. Headaches, dizziness, loss of balance, or numbness in the limbs may mean the tumor has spread to the brain or spinal cord. Yellowing of the skin and eyes can be a sign of spread to the liver, and a lump on the body means the disease has spread to the skin or lymph nodes, according to the American Cancer Society.