Unluckily, lung cancer cannot be noticed in the early stages because it doesn’t have any clear signs or symptom. It is estimated that in 40 percent of patients that had lung cancer, the cancer was diagnosed after the disease had already progressed.
And in one third of the patients, lung cancer is diagnosed at stage 3.Read more to learn about lung cancer symptoms, what to watch and listen out for, and how early screening may help people at high risk for the disease.
Cough That Won’t Stop
Be on alert for a new cough that lingers. While a cough associated with a cold or respiratory infection will go away in a week or two, a persistent cough that lingers can be a possible sign of lung cancer. Don’t be tempted to dismiss a stubborn cough, whether it is dry or mucus-producing, as “just a cough.” See your doctor right away. He or she will listen to your lungs and may order an X-ray or other tests.
Change in a Cough
Pay attention to any changes in a chronic cough, particularly if you are a smoker. These changes may include: frequent coughing with hoarse and deeper sound, coughing up blood or excessive mucus .If you have these symptoms immediately visit your doctor. And if someone close to you has these symptoms advise him/her to visit the doctor as well.
Shortness of breath or becoming easily winded are also possible symptoms of lung cancer. This symptom can occur if lung cancer blocks or narrows an airway, or if fluid from a lung tumor builds up in the chest. Make a point of noticing when you feel winded or short of breath. If this symptom occurs after climbing the stairs to your house, bringing in groceries, or performing another task you could previously do without finding it hard to breathe, don’t ignore it.
Pain in the Chest Area
Lung cancer causes pain in the back, chest or shoulders.. This aching feeling may not be associated with coughing. Tell your doctor if you notice any type of chest pain, whether it is sharp, dull, constant, or comes and goes. You should also note whether it is confined to a specific area or is occurring throughout your chest. When lung cancer causes chest pain, the discomfort may result from enlarged lymph nodes or metastasis to the chest wall, pleura (lining around the lungs), or the ribs.
If you notice a whistling or wheezing sound whenever you cough, this may be caused by inflamed, blocked or tightened airway. Occurrences like wheezing are associated with many different health problems and some of them are harmless. However, studies have confirmed that wheezing can be related to lung cancer, so don’t think twice before visiting your doctors.
Raspy, Hoarse Voice
Immediately visit a doctor if you or someone else notices that your voice is deeper, raspier or hoarse. These symptoms can be linked with simple cold but if they last more than two weeks you should start to worry. Hoarseness caused by lung cancer appears when the tumor affects the nerve which controls the voice box or larynx.
An unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may linked with lung cancer or another type of cancer. When cancer is present, this weight drop may result from cancer cells using energy in the body. It could also result from shifts in the way the body uses food energy. Don’t write off a change in your weight if you haven’t been trying to shed pounds—it may be a clue to a change in your health.
Lung cancer has the ability to spread to the bones, resulting in back pain that get more severe during the night while sleeping on your back. Furthermore, lung cancer is connected with arm, neck and shoulder pain although rarely. Nevertheless, every pain should be checked by your doctor.
Headaches may be an indication that lung cancer has spread to the brain. Nevertheless, not all headaches in people with lung cancer are associated with brain metastases. Sometimes, a lung tumor may create pressure on the superior vena cava, which is the large vein that moves blood from the upper body to the heart. This pressure can also trigger headaches.
Easy Screening May Help
Chest X-rays are not effective in detecting early-stage lung cancer. However, low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans have been shown to reduce lung cancer mortality by 20 percent, according to a 2011 study. In the study, 53,454 people at high risk for lung cancer were randomly assigned either a low-dose CT scan or an X-ray. The low-dose CT scans detected more lung cancer. There were also significantly fewer deaths from the disease in the low-dose CT group.
Aimed at High-Risk Patients
The study prompted the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to issue a draft recommendation that people at high risk for lung cancer receive low-dose CT screening. The recommendation applies only to people who:
- have a 30-pack year or more history of smoking
- are ages 55 to 79
- have smoked within the past 15 years
Talk with your doctor about whether low-dose CT screening is appropriate for you.
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