Many people aren’t diagnosed with lung cancer until the disease has advanced. However, there are a few signs and symptoms that can help in early detection. Early detection of cancer through screening plays an important role in cancer prevention and positive care outcomes.
Here are the early signs and symptoms of lung cancer.
1. Persistent cough
A persistent cough can be an early sign of lung cancer because the cancerous cells in the lungs can irritate the airways and cause coughing. Additionally, lung tumours can cause changes in the normal airflow, leading to coughing. It's important to pay attention to any changes in your cough or breathing. If you have a persistent cough that lasts for more than a few weeks, or if you experience shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing up blood or rust-coloured sputum it's important to see a doctor for a proper medical evaluation.
2. Chest pain
The cancerous cells in the lungs can press on the nerves that run between the ribs, causing chest pain. Additionally, it can invade nearby tissues and organs, such as the chest wall, oesophagus, or heart, leading to chest pain. Pay attention to the location, duration, and type of pain you're experiencing. Chest pain related to lung cancer is often described as a dull ache, pressure, or tightness in the chest, and may be constant or come and go.
If you have chest pain that lasts for more than a few days, visit an oncologist near you. Your doctor may order imaging tests (such as a chest X-ray or CT scan), a lung function test, or a biopsy to diagnose the cause of your symptoms.
3. Shortness of breath
Cancerous cells in the lungs can obstruct the airways and can cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs (known as pleural effusion), leading to shortness of breath. Shortness of breath related to lung cancer may be especially noticeable during physical activity, but can also occur at rest. If you have shortness of breath that is new or has worsened it is recommended to consult a doctor at the earliest.
4. Wheezing or hoarseness
A hoarse or raspy voice is an early sign of lung cancer as the tumour presses on the laryngeal nerve located within the chest. The compressed nerve can paralyze the vocal cord, causing a change in voice.
5. Recurrent lung infections (such as pneumonia or bronchitis)
Recurrent lung infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, are common signs of lung cancer. The cancerous cells weaken the immune system making it easier for bacteria or viruses to cause infections. Pay attention to any changes in your overall health and the frequency of lung infections. If you have a history of lung infections that keep coming back, visit a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
6. Loss of appetite or weight loss
Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss can be due to many types of cancer, including lung cancer. Cancer cells tend to use a high amount of energy and can change the way your body uses food as an energy source causing rapid weight loss. Do not ignore a sudden drop in weight.
While these might be most commonly known early signs of lung cancer swelling in the face or neck, difficulty swallowing, finger clubbing are lesser-known signs. Although these symptoms can be a cause of other conditions, it's important to see a doctor. A proper medical evaluation is needed to determine the cause of lung cancer and early detection may mean more treatment options are available.
Regular cancer screening can detect the presence of cancer before it spreads and improve the chances of survival. We at A.J Hospital urge all individuals to do regular cancer screenings.
Visit us every second Thursday for a cancer screening and awareness program at A.J Hospital and Research Centre, Mangalore.
Avail special discounts on all cancer screenings between 4th Feb 2023 to 18th Feb 2023. Terms and Conditions applied.