Lung cancer, in most cases, is detected only at the advanced stage. The main reason behind this trend is that, the early signs of the disease are often ignored or considered “normal” by most patients. Read on to find out the common symptoms of lung cancer and learn how it can help people at high-risk.
Persistent and dry cough
Cough and cold are common health problems that stay on for a week or two. But the cough that lingers for a longer time can be a symptom of lung cancer. When chronic cough becomes dry and more intense, it is probably the right time to have the lungs tested. Some patients also cough up too much mucus (more than the usual) and sometimes blood too.
Changes in the breathing pattern
Lung cancer can completely or partially block airways and sometimes the fluid from the cancerous tumor can build up in the chest thus leading to shortness of breath. Young individuals, especially smokers must be alerted when they notice sudden shortness of breath or when they become easily winded. For instance, if you feel winded or are short of breath after climbing the staircase at your home or work (which was not the case earlier), then it is probably better to see the doctor.
Discomfort and pain around the chest area
Patients who are affected by lung cancer feel recurrent pain and discomfort in the chest, shoulders and sometimes in the back area too. The pain comes from the metastasis to the chest wall (also referred to as the ribs or pleura) or may also be due to the enlarged lymph nodes. The pain can be faint and stay on for a few hours or sharp and intense lasting only for a few minutes. Pain that may be caused due to lung cancer can also be accompanied by wheezing. The constricted airways produce a whistling sound while breathing. Thus chest pain with severe wheezing could be a definitive sign of lung cancer.
Changes in the voice
Hoarseness in the voice can occur due to cold or an infection in the throat. In any case, the changes fade away within 10-15 days. If you find people noticing changes in your voice (as deeper or hoarser) for a longer time period, then it is a red flag. The hoarseness in the voice comes from the impact of the tumor on the nerves leading to the larynx.
Unreasonable weight loss
Sudden loss of weight (more than 10 pounds) could be a warning sign for various health complications and lung cancer is certainly one of them. The cancer cells consume too much energy and the affected body uses the energy from the food in ways other than the intended.
Pain in various parts of the body
When the cancer has moved from the initial stages and has started to spread to the bones, the patient witnesses bone pain in the back area and in the limbs too. The pain intensifies during the nights and when the patient exerts too pressure while moving around.