Lung cancer is a serious problem in the United States: the National Cancer Institute estimates that one out of 14 people will be diagnosed in their lifetimes and it now exceeds breast cancer as the number one cause of cancer-related death in women. The biggest cause of this, of course, is tobacco use: nearly 90% of lung cancer is related to a past or present habit of smoking or of being exposed to secondhand smoke and radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Other causes are air pollution and exposure to elements like asbestos. As with any cancer, early detection and treatment can greatly increase the chance of survival and as well as increasing the general quality of life, so knowledge of symptoms, such as those listed below, is very important.
A persistent cough – especially in absence of any obvious reason, such as colds, flus, or respiratory infection – is an early warning sign. Changes in cough, such as a cough that is deeper or contains blood or more mucous than usual, should be investigated.
Shortness of Breath
Feeling short of breath if you are exercising or exerting yourself in one thing. However, if you feel this way with minimal effort or if you notice that you are getting short of breath doing things you used to be able to do easily, this could be a sign that something is amiss.
Chest/Upper Body Pain
Not surprisingly, lung cancer can also cause pain in the chest or in the shoulders or upper back if the cancer has spread to the bones there. If you have pain in this area that is not going way, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns.
A wheeze refers to a high-pitched whistling sound which happens when you breathe in or out. This can happen if you have asthma or allergies, but if it is going on in absence of these conditions, it should certainly be checked out.
Changes in Voice
It is normal for your voice to get hoarse or deep if you have, for instance, a cold or the flu; however, if this is happening even when you do not have some sort of respiratory infection, this also should be reported to your doctor.
If you notice that you are developing chest/respiratory infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis more frequently than is normal for you or that you are finding it harder to recover from them than before, this too could be a sign that lung cancer is developing.
Loss of Appetite and Weight
These symptoms can happen with the onset of many diseases, not just cancer; however, if you are experience these along with some of the symptoms mentioned above, it is definitely worth reporting to the doctor.
Many people who get signs and symptoms such as these can get scared or will try to ignore the problem. However, ignoring it will not make the issue go away and you greatly improve your chances of survival if you are diagnosed early and begin treatment to help you battle the disease.