7 Signs of Lung Cancer You Might Be Ignoring

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death (one in four) in
both men and women. Treatment is most effective when lung cancer is
diagnosed early, so see your doctor if you notice any of the following
lung cancer symptoms.

Cough blood
“Spitting blood is never a good
sign. Immediately go see your doctor, ”says Raja Flores, MD, professor
and chair of the department of thoracic surgery at the Icahn School of
Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. While cancer isn’t necessarily
the cause of your bloody cough, you definitely need to get tested, he
says.

Chest pain
Watch out for chest, back, or shoulder pain that is new
and does not go away. You may notice a feeling of tightness or a sharp
pain that may get worse with deep breaths, coughing, or laughing. “You
feel pain where the tumor is,” says Dr. Flores. “If the tumor is on the
side, you will feel pain on the side. If it’s towards the back of the
chest, you will feel pain in your back. Any chest pain warrants a call
to your doctor, just in case, he says. Chest pain can also be a sign of a
heart attack.

A persistent cough
Coughing fits can be caused by something as
simple as allergies, a cold, or water going down the wrong pipe. But if
your cough never seems to go away, it could be a sign of something more
serious, like lung cancer. “Respiratory cancer can irritate your throat
and make you cough,” says Dr. Flores. “There’s something in there that’s
not supposed to be there, so your body is trying to get rid of it.”
Cancer can also produce mucus, which makes the cough worse and worse.

Shortness of breath
If you are suddenly short of breath after
going up the stairs, or if your daily walk around the block leaves you
breathless, it could be a symptom of lung cancer. “Shortness of breath
can come from a tumor blocking the windpipe. It can also be from a
build-up of fluid in the chest that pushes on the lungs and leaves you
with a lack of air, ”says Dr. Flores. When cancer forms in the lining of
the lungs, it causes fluid to build up in the chest; and although your
chest can hold between three and four liters of fluid, when it fills up
completely, the lungs are unable to receive enough air, he says.
Difficulty breathing when sitting or lying down can also be a sign of an
embarrassing condition.

Feeling tired
If you are feeling exhausted but haven’t made any
changes to your daily routine, it could be a sign of cancer. “It may not
specifically signal lung cancer, but it is a sure red flag that
something is wrong,” says Dr Flores. Weight loss and loss of appetite
are also a sign of lung cancer, according to the American Cancer
Society. Smoking, a family history of cancer, and exposure to asbestos
also increase the risk of lung cancer.

A diagnosis of asthma
Having asthma does not guarantee that you
will get lung cancer. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with asthma
after childhood, it’s a good idea to get screened for lung cancer, says
Dr. Flores. “It’s an unusual symptom, but it’s something to keep in mind
if you’re a young adult or older and you’ve just been diagnosed with
asthma,” he says. “Respirologists often listen to your lungs, hear
wheezing, and treat it like asthma; but it’s a good idea to do a CT scan
to make sure there isn’t a tumor inside, which could cause a blockage.

Overall body pain
Because lung cancer often shows symptoms only in
advanced stages, it may go undiagnosed until it has spread to other
parts of the body. Headaches, dizziness, and problems with balance or
numbness in the limbs may mean that the cancer has spread to the brain
or spinal cord. Yellowing of the skin and eyes could be a sign that it
has spread to the liver, and lumps on the body could mean the disease
has spread to the skin or lymph nodes, according to American Cancer.
Society.

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