Lung Cancer Symptoms & Signs
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Video: Symptoms of Lung CancerGain a better understanding of lung cancer symptoms, and how these early signs can guide you in the right cancer treatment direction.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Interventional pulmonologist Dr. Daniel Nader discusses the symptoms of lung cancer.
What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?
The early symptoms of lung cancer may be a slight cough or shortness of breath, depending on which part of the lung is affected. As the cancer develops, these symptoms may become more severe or intense. Like many other types of cancer, lung cancer may also cause systemic symptoms, like a loss of appetite or general fatigue.
Early Symptoms and Signs of Lung Cancer
There may be no symptoms at the onset of the disease. When present, common symptoms of lung cancer may include:
- Coughing – This includes a persistent cough that doesn't go away or changes to a chronic "smoker's cough,” such as more coughing or pain.
- Coughing Up Blood – Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm) should always be discussed with your doctor.
- Breathing Difficulties – Shortness of breath, wheezing or noisy breathing (called stridor) may all be signs of lung cancer.
- Loss of Appetite – Many cancers cause changes in appetite, which may lead to unintended weight loss.
- Fatigue – It is common to feel weak or excessively tired.
- Recurring Infections – Recurring infections, like bronchitis or pneumonia, may be one of the signs of lung cancer.
Signs of Advanced Stages of Lung Cancer
Advanced stages of lung cancer are often characterized by the spread of the cancer to distant sites in the body. This may affect the bones, liver or brain. As other parts of the body are affected, new lung cancer symptoms may develop, including:
- Bone pain
- Swelling of the face, arms or neck
- Headaches, dizziness or limbs that become weak or numb
- Lumps in the neck or collar bone region
Understanding the Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Many signs of lung cancer are similar to other types of benign lung infections or diseases. In the case of lung cancer, symptoms will continue to evolve and worsen as the disease advances. It is important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis if you have any of the above symptoms.
In rare cases, other disorders may develop as a result of lung cancer, especially in the early stages of the disease. Paraneoplastic syndromes cause symptoms in other parts of the body. Awareness of these symptoms may help with diagnosing lung cancer.
Some paraneoplastic syndromes related to lung cancer include:
- Cushing Syndrome – This syndrome develops when the adrenal glands produce excess amounts of a hormone that regulates the secretion of cortisol. Common symptoms may include weight gain, weakness and high blood pressure.
- Lambert-Eaton Syndrome – This condition is characterized by muscle weakness, particularly around the hips and shoulders. Trouble standing after sitting for a while is sometimes the first sign of this nervous system problem.
- Syndrome of Inappropriate Anti-Diuretic Hormone (SIADH) – This may cause the kidneys to retain water. When this happens, the salt levels in the body are affected and can lead to fatigue, muscular weakness, cramps, nausea, vomiting and confusion.
NOTE: These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. It is important to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
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