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Published On: Tue, Jul 31st, 2018

7 Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

More than often, we see advertisements urging the masses not to smoke and stop the intake of tobacco or tobacco products,as they serve as two major causes of life-threatening lung cancer. However, as a well-known fact, lung cancer can even develop in people who have never smoked or consumed tobacco in their entire life. The risk of developing lung cancer increases with the passage of time and the number of cigarettes a person smokes in a day. Several medical reports and pieces of research also state that usual gases found in homes (or rather kitchens) such as radon, contain harmful substances, which when inhaled in large quantities, can even trigger lung cancer and cause great damage.

Heart and Lungs diagram Gray's anatomy

Heart and Lungs diagram from Gray’s anatomy/public domain

Types of Lung cancer

Typically, there are two types of lung cancers – small cell lung cancers (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC), which are further classified on the basis of the microscopic appearance of the malignant cells present in the body. The two types spread, grow and are treated in very different ways.

SCLC comprises about only 10% to 15% of the lung cancer cases. It’s a rare cancer which is more dangerous than its counterpart.NSCLC, on the other hand, is the most common type of lung cancer and accounts to about 85% of the cases registered each year.

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Early signs of lung cancer can be as trivial as a slight cough, loss of appetite, chest pain, fatigue, or even shortness of breath. The bad news is that the later stage symptoms of lung cancer go far beyond the haunting cough and instances of chest pain. As the illness progresses, the symptoms aggravate in nature and become more prominently visible. This occurs when cancer starts to spread across the lungs and other parts of the body.Advanced stages of lung cancer can be easily identified unlike the initial stages. In fact, in most cases, it is observed that the initial stages of lung cancer have no symptoms at all. And, in most cases, the illness gets diagnosed when it’s in its third or fourth stage.

An early detection of this ailment definitely improves a person’s chances of getting cured and living a longer, healthier life. Hence, it is important not to ignore any signs and symptoms of lung cancer.

  1. Coughing out blood: One of the major signs of lung cancer is constant coughing, which does not get remedied even after several medications and worsens over time. Such coughing is also often accompanied with blood. Lung cancer specialists state that moment one experiences any kind of red/rust colored mucus or spit (or phlegm), he/she must immediately pay a visit the doctor. Hemoptysis or coughing up of blood is a serious concern and must not be ignored at any cost.
  2. Intense breathing difficulties: A series of breathing problems such as loud wheezing, sneezing repeatedly, persistent coughing, and shortness of breath, often indicate lung cancer. For instance, wheezing in the case of lung cancer is the result of a tumor disrupting the natural airway.
  3. Recurrent infections: A person showing early signs of lung cancer will have a recent history of multiple infections. Chronic bronchitis and pneumonia being the major ones, but also added on by other regular illnesses such as long-lasting cough, chronic cold and frequent throat congestion also serve as some common signs. The overall immunity of such a person decreases manifold. A commonly noted symptom is a series of persistent chest infections, which worsen over time.
  4. Overall fatigue: Being tired and out of energy all day long is a major symptom of initiation (or even advanced stages) of lung cancer. However, it important to note that tiredness, in case of presence of lung cancer, is different than a usual feeling of tiredness after a hard day at work.Weakness, numbness in arms and limbs, constant headache, and even dizziness become a daily illness. And the bad news is that the ‘excessive tiredness’ does not go away with any amount of rest you gift to your body. Lung cancer hampers the routine functioning of the muscles as well. This is the major reason of frailness felt in arms, hands, shoulders, and legs. In most cases, bone pain such as pain in back or hips or a feeling of having sore spots is also noted.Such grave pain in your joints or bones indicates the spread of cancer to the spinal cord.
  5. Hoarseness: Lung cancer patients develop a gradual hoarseness in their speech which becomes quite noticeable with time. This results from the hampering of nerves which interfere with the usual functioning of the vocal cords. Severe hoarseness is also accompanied by a major difficulty experienced while swallowing down food. However, hoarseness develops as a symptom in people who suffer from lung cancer triggered by a continual use of tobacco or tobacco products, but it can also occur otherwise. In the non-tobacco intake cases, hoarseness develops out of the presence of a tumor in the left lung of the patient.
  6. Weight loss and loss of appetite:A person with lung cancer will gradually see a reduction in his/her body weight without a single day of workout. This is more than often accompanied by (and maybe the result of) a significant loss of appetite. For instance, in certain cases wherein a serious tumor develops in the lungs, additional protein is secreted and made which directs the body to lose weight. Jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin, is another associated sign of lung cancer.
  7. Blood clots or lumps: One of the most easily identified symptom of lung cancer, the rapid development of lumps, especially, near the neck and collarbone must not go unnoticed. The formation of lumps or blood clots all over the body surface indicates the spread of cancer to the lymph nodes. This can also be accompanied by a swelling around your neck and face due to the spread of cancer cells across the superior vena cava. The problem gets more aggravated when you find a similar swelling in your arms and upper chest as well.

If you notice any of the above symptoms,play safe and see your doctor at once to get yourself checked for lung cancer NOW!

Author: Ravi Kumarr Gupta

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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