Lung cancer has no noticeable symptoms in its early stage. Namely, the diagnosis was made after the disease had progressed in 40 percent of patients which had lung cancer, and in stage 3 in one third of them. That is why you should read this article and learn the early symptoms, how to recognize them and in what way early screening can help, in order to prevent the cancer to spread.
Early stage cancer cannot be discovered with chest x-rays. However, low-dose CT scans were more successful in discovering lung cancer. According to study from 2011, low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans are proven to help in reducing lung cancer mortality by 20%. In this study, 53,454 people at high risk for lung cancer had a low-dose CT scan or an X-ray.
Due to this study, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended high-risk people which are more prone to this disease to have low-dose CT screening. This includes people who are 55 to 79 old, have a 30 year or more history of smoking or have smoked within the past 15 years.
Change in a Cough
You should be careful in case you notice that there are some changes in chronic cough, especially if you are a smoker. These changes may include: frequent coughing with hoarse and deeper sound, coughing up blood or excessive mucus .In case you, or someone close to you have these symptoms, it is highly recommendable that you consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Raspy, Hoarse Voice
Hoarseness caused by lung cancer appears when the tumor affects the nerve which controls the voice box or larynx. If you or someone else notices that your voice is deeper, raspier or hoarse, you should immediately visit the doctor. Even though these symptoms can be linked with simple should be alarmed if this lasts for more than fifteen days.
Cancer cells are using the energy from the body as well as the body uses the energy obtained from food, so it leads to rapid weight loss -10 pounds or more.
Lung cancer can spread to the bones and cause pain in the back or in other areas, which is more severe during the night while sleeping on the back. Moreover, this type of cancer is linked with arm, neck and shoulder pain although rarely. However, you should remember to consult your doctor whenever you feel any kind of pain.
One can also suffer from headaches if the lung cancer has spread to the brain. Though, not all headaches are linked with brain metastases. In some cases, the lung tumor can press the main vena cava, the larger vein which takes the blood from upper body into the heart. This can also cause headache.
Due to blocking and narrowing the airways by the cancer as well as from fluid accumulated in the chest by lung tumor, one can often feel breath difficulties in case of lung cancer. So, if you are short of breath often, for example when you bring groceries, when you climb stairs or you perform actions which didn’t make you feel breathless before, visit a doctor.
Pain in the Chest Area
If you feel pain in the back, chest or in shoulder, you should be careful since it can be also caused by lung cancer which is rarely linked with coughing. Whether it is constant, comes and goes or it is dull, it is always an indication that you should visit your doctor. You should also notice whether the pain occurs only in a single area or appears throughout the chest. Chest pain which is a result of lung cancer is due to metastasis to the chest wall, pleura (lining around the lungs), or the ribs or because of enlarged lymph nodes.
When you catch a cold or have a respiratory infection, the cough will be gone after week or two. On the other hand, persistent cough which doesn’t stop can be a sign of lung cancer. Be careful if the cough lasts longer than usual, and if you cough for a longer period of time, with mucus or without, it is another sign that you need to visit the doctor.
In case of wheezing or whistling sound when you cough, it may result from blocked, inflamed or constricted airway. Wheezing can be a sign of various medical conditions which are benign and curable as well, but it is also a symptom of lung cancer, so do not hesitate and consult your doctor, and he will diagnose the problem.