Unfortunately, lung cancer cannot be noticed in the early stage because it doesn’t have any clear signs or symptoms. Around 40% of patients who are suffering from lung cancer were diagnosed with one after the disease had developed and progressed.
Almost 30% of them were diagnosed with lung cancer when the disease was in stage 3. This is the reason why you need to learn more about the early signs of lung cancer and how to identify them because it is much easier to deal with this vicious disease before it starts spreading.
Simple chest X-rays won’t be able to detect an early stage cancer. But, low dose computed tomography scans have proven to be successful. A study conducted 4 years ago has confirmed that thanks to CT scans, lung cancer fatalities were reduced by 20%. The study involved about 53.000 people who were prone to cancer and who had an X-ray or a low dose CT scan.
Based on these results, the US Preventive Services Task Force advised people with high-risk of developing lung cancer to practice CT scanning. People at the age between 55 and 79 years as well as smokers who have smoked for more than 30 years in their life or were passionate smokers for the past 15 years are the categories that are prone to this disease.
Signs of Lung Cancer
1. Unusual coughing
It is not unusual for people to cough, but if you realize that you are coughing differently and that you are suffering from chronic cough, you should definitely do some testing. Some of the changes that you can notice in your cough include coughing up large amount of mucus or even blood, repeated coughing with deeper sound etc. If you notice these symptoms in some of your family members or friends or in you, you should definitely visit your doctor’s office.
2. Harsh-sounding voice
Harsh-sounding voice that some smokers have is linked to the damages to the nerve which manages the larynx or voice box. In many cases, this is a sign of a presence of tumor which presses this nerve. If your voice suddenly becomes harsh-sounding, raspier and/or deeper, don’t waste your time and visit your doctor. In most cases this occurrence is nothing serious, but if it lasts for more than 15 days then there is certainly something that is not right.
3. Weight Loss
Cells use the bodily energy to grow and regenerate, but cancer cells do this at a greater rate. The energy we get comes from the food, but when cancer cells are present in the system, the body cannot produce enough energy which results in noticeable weight loss – more than 10 pounds in a short period of time.
4. Bone Tenderness and Pain
Despite its name, lung cancer can easily reach the bones and result in back pain and in pain in other body parts. This pain is more intense when people sleep on their back. In addition, lung cancer can lead to pain in the arms, shoulders and neck, but only in rare cases. However, it is always a good idea to see your doctor when you notice this unusual pain.
Lung cancer can also affect the brain and this is when the headaches start. Although not every type of headache come as a consequence of brain metastases, There are cases in which lung tumor puts pressure on the larger vein or vena cava that transports the blood to the heart from the upper body. This is one of the reasons of headaches.
6. Breathing Difficulties
When the cancer progresses the airways become blocked and/or narrowed. In addition, there is increased fluid buildup in and around the chest because of the lung tumor. All these things lead to breathing changes and difficulties. You will be experiencing shortness of breath frequently, for instance, when you use the stairs or some simple actions that were not a problem in the past. Consult your doctor.
7. Chest pain
In case you notice pain that spreads in the shoulders, back or chest, you should definitely be very careful because this pain can be a direct result of lung cancer. It doesn’t really matter if we are talking about permanent or temporary pain that reoccurs; this is a clear sign that it is time to visit the doctor’s office. It is also important to check if the pain is concentrated in a specific area or is felt all over the chest. Pain in the chest area that is a direct consequence of lung cancer appears because of the metastasis to the chest wall or the ribs or the lining around the lungs or even as a result of extended lymph nodes.
8. Continuous Cough
We have all been victims of cold or some other similar respiratory infection and we know that it is accompanied with cough that lasts between 7 and 14 days. However, continuous and persistent cough that doesn’t change its intensity can be one of the signs of lung cancer. In case the cough lasts for a long time you should visit the doctor. The presence or absence of mucus is not very important.
If you notice a whistling or wheezing sound whenever you cough, this may be caused by inflamed, blocked or tightened airway. Occurrences like wheezing are associated with many different health problems and some of them are harmless. However, studies have confirmed that wheezing can be related to lung cancer, so don’t think twice before visiting your doctor’s office.