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Lung cancer symptoms

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.

Video: Lung Cancer Symptoms

Lung Cancer Symptoms

Lung cancer symptoms

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
  • Jaundice
  • Lumps in the neck or collar bone region

Understanding cancer symptoms

These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. If you notice any cancer signs or symptoms, it's important to visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

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Navigating a diagnosis of lung cancer

podcast mod

Dr. Bruce Gershenhorn discusses lung cancer and advances in treatment.

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