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What Are The Early Signs And Symptoms Of Lung Cancer?


Being able to detect the early symptoms and signs of lung cancer can be a lifesaver in many cases. Detection before it grows and becomes too severe means you can receive treatment that could save your life. 

However, while most of us have a vague idea of what the symptoms of lung cancer are, most of us have no idea what to look for, so we can detect it early, making all lung cancer clinical trials easier. 

So, what are the early warning signs and symptoms you should be on the lookout for?

Early Warning Symptoms & Signs

A vast majority of lung cancer types will not cause any symptoms until it has advanced, mostly due to the lungs having very few nerve endings. 

However, when lung cancer does show signs in its earlier stages, these symptoms can vary between each person. Nonetheless, they can look like…

  • New coughing which continues or gets worse, or changes in an existing chronic cough. 
  • Pains in the chest, shoulders, or back which will get worse with laughing, coughing, or deep breathing.
  • Sudden unexplained weight loss.
  • Wheezing or hoarseness.
  • Feeling weak or tired.
  • Coughing that produces blood.
  • Shortness of breath which may come on suddenly and during normal activity. 
  • Reduction in/ loss of appetite.
  • Bronchitis/ Pneumonia and such lung infections which do not go away. 

Some other, less common, signs can also include…

  • Changes in your fingers/ clubbing.
  • Swelling in neck or face.
  • Pain when swallowing or issues in doing so. 

Note that most of the time these symptoms can be caused by something aside from lung cancer, which makes it even more important that you see a doctor. While it is more likely to be something else, being able to catch lung cancer early would give you more options for treatment.

Symptoms Of Advanced Lung Cancer

As we said, most of the time, lung cancer will not show any signs or symptoms until it has advanced. So, let us take a look at some of the advanced lung cancer symptoms. 

Once lung cancer advances, it is mainly characterized by the spreading of said cancer into distant areas inside the body. This means it could affect your bones, brain, or liver. As new parts of your body get affected by cancer, new symptoms will start to develop. 

Here are some f the symptoms you could expect: 

  • Jaundice.
  • Painful bones.
  • Headaches, dizziness, or weak/numb limbs.
  • Lumps in your neck or collarbone area.
  • Swelling in your arms, face, or neck. 

Symptoms Of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

NSCLC can grow slowly over a period of time before any signs or symptoms may be seen. Non-small cell lung Cancer can have symptoms as you can see here:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Constant coughing with no obvious cause.
  • Bone pains.
  • Wheezing and hoarseness.
  • Fatigue or feeling tired or weak.
  • Painful breathing or chest pains. 
  • A bloody cough, or having phlegm come out red, is also known as hemoptysis.
  • Recurring respiratory infections i.e. Pneumonia, bronchitis. 

Other areas of your body may become affected by the development or spreading of non-small cell lung cancer tumorus. 

This type of cancer may spread to your brain which could cause seizures and headaches, there may also be lumps in your lymph nodes

Tumors can also cause nerve damage, the symptoms of horner syndrome which is associated with nerve damage can sometimes affect only a single side of your face.

Small Cell Lung Cancer Symptoms

There is also small cell lung cancer, and most of the signs that are associated with this are not often noticed until the cancer has progressed further. The symptoms associated with it usually develop over time and get worse as the cancer spreads to other organs in the body. 

However, you can pinpoint this type of lung cancer by noting the following early symptoms: 

  • Hoarseness.
  • Wheezing.
  • Fatigue, is a feeling of weakness or tiredness.
  • Rusted-coloured phlegm comes up when you cough.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Sudden loss of appetite.
  • Constant cough.
  • Pneumonia, bronchitis, and other infections which keep coming back.
  • Worsening chest pains that are made worse by coughing, deep breaths, or laughing. 
  • Short of breath.

Once small cell lung cancer has advanced further you may find other symptoms follow such as the following:

  • Jaundice.
  • Neck or collar bone lumps.
  • Painful bones.
  • Dizziness and/or headaches.
  • Limbs that become weak/ numb. 

All of these signs and symptoms can differ from person to person.

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