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Lung Cancer: 11 Symptoms You Should Check Before It Kills You

Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs. Lung cancer typically doesn’t cause signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically occur only when the disease is advanced. These symptoms include:

1. Coughing: Coughing is your body’s way of trying to expel an irritant from the throat or airway by pushing a burst of air into the lungs. An intense, persistent, or consistently worsening cough can be a sign of lung cancer and should be investigated. Contact your doctor immediately if you cough up blood or bloody mucus and phlegm.

2. Shortness of Breath (Dyspnea): Sometimes this sensation is described as a tight or crushing feeling in the chest. The spread of lung cancer can cause blockages in the major airways or the buildup of fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion), causing a shortness of breath.

3. Wheezing: Wheezing can be described as a high-pitched whistling that occurs when you breathe out. It’s caused by constricted air passages, which may be the result of a tumor.

4. Hoarseness or Change in Voice: Normally your vocal chords produce sound by opening and closing, causing vibrations. The vocal chords can become irritated and inflamed if lung cancer has spread to the throat. This may cause a change or hoarseness in your voice.

5. Chronic Fatigue: Fatigue is a constant worn-down feeling. With a disease like lung cancer, your body is under constant attack and works overtime to try to fight the disease and heal itself. This effort can bankrupt you of energy and leave you feeling tired and unmotivated.

6. Fever: A fever is an sign that something abnormal is happening in your body. When you are ill, your temperature rises above its normal 98.6 degrees. This is the body’s attempt to reduce heat loss and fight off infection. If the fever gets too high or does not go away in a few days, contact your doctor.

7. Swelling (Edema): When the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) in your body are damaged or undergo pressure, they leak fluid. Your kidney responds by retaining water and salt to compensate for the loss. This excess fluid causes the capillaries to leak more fluid. Your lymph nodes work to clear excess fluid from your body. Cancer can block or damage your lymph nodes and prevent them from doing their job. This can result in the swelling of the neck, face, and arms.

8. Pain in the chest area: Lung cancer may produce pain in the chest, shoulders, or back. An aching feeling may not be associated with coughing. Tell your doctor if you notice any type of chest pain, whether it is sharp, dull, constant, or comes and goes. You should also note whether it is confined to a specific area or is occurring throughout your chest. When lung cancer causes chest pain, the discomfort may result from enlarged lymph nodes or metastasis to the chest wall, the lining around the lungs called pleura, or the ribs.

9. Loss of appetite: Many cancers cause changes in appetite, which may lead to unintended weight loss.

10. Recurring infections: Recurring infections, like bronchitis or pneumonia, may be one of the signs of lung cancer.

11. Finger Clubbing: These are changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their ends becoming larger.

Additional symptoms may occur once the cancer has spread to different parts of the body. These symptoms include:

  • Pain in the shoulders or back
  • Headache
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Dizziness or seizures
  • Unsteadiness or memory loss
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
  • Weakness or numbness of the arms and legs
  • Blood clots
  • Lumps near the surface of the skin, especially by the lymph nodes

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It’s very important to report any unusual physical feelings to your doctor.

PS: This information put together as a guide are culled from health-related articles on websites, journals, and videos.

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