Small Cell Lung Cancer Symptoms & Signs
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What Are the Symptoms of Small Cell Lung Cancer?
Many common small cell lung cancer symptoms are easily mistaken for an infection or other disease. Most of the signs associated with this disease are not present until the cancer has progressed. Typically, symptoms of small cell lung cancer continue to evolve and worsen as the disease spreads to distant organs.
Early Symptoms of Small Cell Lung Cancer
- Persistent cough
- Chest pains that get worse with deep breathing, laughing or coughing
- Unexplained loss of appetite and weight
- Coughing up blood or rust-colored phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling weak and/or tired
- Bronchitis, pneumonia or other infections that keep recurring
Symptoms of Advanced Stage Lung Cancer
- Bone pain
- Headaches, dizziness or limbs that become weak or numb
- Lumps in the neck or collar bone region
Many symptoms of advanced stage lung cancer may be due to other conditions. If you believe you are at risk for develoing lung cancer or these symptoms persist, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor.
Paraneoplastic Syndromes & Lung Cancer
Sometimes small cell lung cancer can cause paraneoplastic syndromes. While not always the case, these syndromes are often early signs of small cell lung cancer. Like other symptoms of small cell lung cancer, many of these syndromes produce signs that are often confused with other diseases. That is because many of these syndromes produce hormone-like changes that often affect organs and tissues that are not near the lungs.
Small cell lung cancer may cause one of these three paraneoplastic syndromes: Syndrome of Inappropriate Anti-Diuretic Hormone (SIADH), Cushing Syndrome or Lambert-Eaton Syndrome.
The cancer makes a hormone called ADH, which causes the kidneys to retain water and depletes the salt levels in the blood. As a result, the following symptoms may develop:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle weakness
Cancer cells produce a hormone called ACTH, which causes the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol. Excess production of these hormones may cause:
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
Small cell lung cancer causes nervous system problems that affect muscles. This syndrome causes the muscles around the hips, and later the shoulders, to weaken. The first symptom of this condition is trouble standing after being in a seated position.
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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