Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both males and females and the leading reason for cancer death, according to the American Cancer Society. While you may think cigarette smokers are the only segment of the population at risk for lung cancer, you may be shocked to understand that twenty percent of lung cancer deaths are individuals who do not smoke. The American Cancer Society explains air pollution, second-hand smoke, radon gas, and cancer-causing agents like asbestos and diesel exhaust are all major risk elements for lung cancer.
The best defense against lung cancer is knowing the early symptoms and signs. The sooner you get to your doctor and the faster cancer is diagnosed, the better chances for recovery. Continue reading to discover the early symptoms and signs of lung cancer.
1. Frequent illness
If you’ve noticed an uptick in your frequency of diseases like cold, influenza, bronchitis, or pneumonia, you must speak to your doctor about the possible causes of your depressed immune system. Dr. Kelley says that when cancer settles in lung tissue and bronchial tubes, the lungs become more susceptible to disease.
2. Unexplained weight loss
If you’ve lost interest in food or feel full quickly after beginning to eat, lung cancer may be taking a toll on your appetite. Dr. Kelley advises keeping a notebook to record symptoms and possible causes, such as food poisoning, food allergy, PMS in women, or intestinal illness. If the cause is unexplained, bring the issue to your doctor’s attention.
3. Finger pain
You might be shocked to know that thickened, painful fingertips are a common symptom of lung cancer. This is since lung tumors release chemicals into the bloodstream that stimulate bone and tissue growth in the fingertips and under the fingernails. Dr. Kelley says to inform your doctor about any thickening, swelling, or clubbing in the fingers.
4. Torso pain
If you experience a persistent dull ache in the chest, shoulder, back, or abdominal area, you may be experiencing direct pressure from a lung tumor. According to Dr. Kelley, chest pain is a symptom in one out of four lung cancer patients.
5. Hoarse voice
If your voice sounds a bit husky or if you experience pain when swallowing or talking, you may have lung cancer. NHS Choices states this common sign is a reason to call your doctor, especially when it is accompanied by a persistent cough, wheezing, or coughing up blood.
6. Shortness of breath
This is a common symptom in women that is too often misdiagnosed as a negative effect of age or lack of exercise. Shortness of breath is a sign of adenocarcinoma, the most common form of lung cancer in women.
7. Weakness in the upper limbs
Weakness in the upper limbs, loss of coordination, and muscle cramps are all signs of paraneoplastic syndrome, a lung cancer-related condition where hormone-like substances are secreted by tumors.
8. Breast growth in men
A less talked about sign in male lung cancer patients is breast enlargement around and under the nipple. Dr. Kelley explains this is a symptom of paraneoplastic syndrome, caused by the release of hormones, proteins and other substances into the bloodstream.