Major Warning Signs of Lung Cancer
Each year, more men and women die from lung cancer than breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined. It is a highly fatal disease, with hundreds of thousands of new cases being diagnosed each year. It’s critical to recognize the early warning signs in order to intervene. The earlier you seek treatment, the better. These warning signs should trigger setting up an examination by your physician immediately.
7. A Chronic Cough
Many individuals say they ‘just have a cough’ and chalk it down to nothing more than that, waiting far too long to be examined. Lung cancer does not just develop in smokers, so non-smokers need to take these symptoms just as seriously as someone who has smoked for years.
If you have a cough due to a short-term respiratory infection or cold, symptoms should subside within a week or two. If a cough is lingering, have your lungs examined by a physician. They will first listen to your lungs, then administer an x-ray.
6. Changes in Breathing Patterns
If there has been a chronic cough for quite some time, pay attention to changes such as coughing more often or if the cough has turned quite hoarse. In terms of breathing patterns, be mindful of any changes — listen to your body. If there is shortness of breath and no explanation, it could be lung cancer.
In some cases, fluid builds in the chest due to a tumor, or cancer cells causing a blockage of some sort. It’s not normal to suddenly experience issues with breathing. Does walking up stairs cause the feeling of being winded? When completing simple tasks which were not difficult prior to the symptoms, is there a shortness of breath?
5. Chest Pain
In terms of increased pain, symptoms generally start within the chest. There may be pain throughout the back, neck, shoulders, and even the head. Regardless of the type of pain — sharp or dull, speak with your doctor about possible causes.
Often when chest pain is experienced, patients have enlarged lymph nodes or a tumor developing on the chest wall, ribs, or lungs. It may also mean that you’re suffering from pleuritis, a condition which causes inflammation within the lining of the lungs. Although cancer can cause this, so can an infection, lupus, or even arthritis.
4. Weight Loss
In some cases, individuals lose weight based on a known condition. Even with the flu, a lack of appetite can quickly cause people to lose 10 pounds. If there is weight loss without an explanation cancer may be present. As cancer cells grow and develop, they draw energy from the body.
If there is a sudden drop in weight, it could be a sign your health is changing. Although it may not necessarily be cancer, it could be something else worth paying attention to. Weight loss is not only a common symptom regarding lung cancer but most forms of cancer. Pay attention to body weight, as it’s generally an indication of current health conditions.
3. Raspy Voice
In many cases, a raspy voice may be evidence of a cold. A raspy, hoarse voice can be concerning, especially if you are a smoker. If this symptom continues for more than two weeks, it’s critical to get checked by your physician.
In terms of lung cancer, a developing tumor can cause increased pressure or influence the nerve that controls the larynx. An inflamed larynx can also cause hoarseness. Although it could be as simple as a bacterial infection, do not take any chances, seek medical attention.
Worst case, headaches could be a sign that lung cancer has spread to the brain. If you have a chronic headache, it may simply be from chronic dehydration or high stress levels. When combined with other symptoms, however, a headache could mean a brain tumor has developed.
In other cases, a tumor in the lungs can place pressure on the superior vena cava — a large vein which when pressured, can trigger headaches. A tension headache is often caused by contracted muscles in the shoulders or neck — cancer could be affecting these areas and in turn, chronic headaches develop.
1. Bone Pain
Cancer spreads throughout the body when a localized area is not treated. In many cases, cancer can spread to bones, producing significant pain. Lung cancer would be the primary cancer, but once it spreads to your bones, this is considered a form of secondary cancer.
Many patients complain the pain is the worst at night, as they lay on their back. Although less common, there may be pain within arms and neck as well. As the bone breaks down, pain will occur. Although a bone scan may be required, a blood test may also be administered in order to check calcium levels.