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Recognizing the Early Warnings of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer starts in the lungs. It is one of the top causes of cancer deaths globally. Smokers are at the highest risk of getting this disease, though it can also occur in non-smokers. It is recommended to undergo screening if you are at a higher risk. Although active smoking is one of the major causes, passive smoking is also not negligible. In addition, exposure to harmful substances (like radon, air pollution, uranium, asbestos, silica, coal products, and diesel), family history of lung cancer, and radiation treatments to the chest area for lymphoma or breast cancer are other risk factors. 

Luckily, many lung cancer treatment options are available, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Your doctor will decide the best treatment depending on various factors. Treatments are most effective when lung cancer is diagnosed at an earlier stage. This is why it is important to watch out for any possible symptoms and consult a doctor if you happen to be experiencing any symptoms. 

This article discusses the early signs and symptoms of lung cancer to create awareness among the readers and help them decide whether they should consult a doctor and undergo screening. 

What Causes Lung Cancer?

Cells that continue to divide in the lungs even if they shouldn’t lead to lung cancer. Cell division is normal, but all cells have an inbuilt mechanism that stops them from dividing into too many cells. When the cells divide too many times and have too many mutations in the lungs, it results in cancer cells. These cancer cells can gradually gain entry into your lymph nodes or bloodstream and spread to other body parts.

Lung Cancer Symptoms

The symptoms of lung cancer are not the same in every person. They differ from one person to the other.

While some people experience symptoms related only to the lungs, others (in whom the disease has spread to other body parts) experience symptoms specific to that particular body part.

A few others may experience just general symptoms of not keeping well. Many people suffering from lung cancer don’t see any symptoms until the disease reaches an advanced stage.


Early Warning Signs of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer generally doesn’t cause any symptoms until it has progressed. When the disease does cause symptoms in the early stages, they differ from one person to another. The common early warning signs include the following: 

  • Coughing up blood
  • A new cough that worsens or is persistent
  • Changes in the chronic cough that you already have
  • Shortness of breath that happens during daily activities or that happens suddenly Pain in the shoulders, back, or chest that worsens while coughing, deep breathing, or laughing
  • Weight loss due to unexplained reasons
  • An overall feeling of weakness or tiredness
  • Appetite loss
  • Wheezing or hoarseness
  • Enlarged or swollen lymph nodes in the region between the lungs inside the chest
  • Lung infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis that do not go away

Here are a few more warning signs that are less common: 

  • Pain or difficulty while swallowing
  • Swelling in the neck, arms, or face
  • Finger clubbing that causes changes in the finger appearance

Some of these symptoms may also be caused due to some other health problem. In any case, it is important to consult a doctor. Early diagnosis means more lung cancer treatment options, which are more effective.


Advanced Lung Cancer Symptoms

Advanced stages of lung cancer, wherein the disease has spread to different parts of the body, exhibit a few symptoms that affect the liver, brain, or/and bones. As the other body parts get affected, you may get to experience new symptoms, including: 

  • Bone pain
  • Dizziness or headache
  • Jaundice
  • Limbs that become numb or weak
  • Lumps in the collarbone or neck area

Be alert now that you know the early signs to look out for. If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms for more than a week, schedule an appointment with your doctor and consult. If your doctor suspects anything serious, undergo the required diagnostic tests and get the necessary treatment.

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