The sooner a lung diagnosis is made and treatment begins, the better your chance of survival. First, one must know the nine warning signs that a tumour is present. What are they? One of the most common signs of lung cancer, as pointed out by Cancer Research UK, is “having a cough most of the time”. If this is a new, continuous cough, it could be a sign of coronavirus, which is why a telephone or video consultation is the best point of action.
Some people with lung cancer might experience “an ache or pain in the chest or shoulder”.
Recurrent chest infections should also be noted, as should losing your appetite, fatigue, and losing weight without trying to.
To summarise, the nine warning signs of lung cancer are:
- A continuous cough, especially if it’s new
- A cough that is painful or sounds different to normal
- Coughing up blood
- Ache in the chest or shoulder
- Recurrent chest infections
- Losing your appetite
- Losing weight
Less common symptoms include finger clubbing, where the fingertips and nails become swollen.
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This may be accompanied by pain and swelling in the joints called hypertrophic pulmonary osteoarthropathy (HPOA).
These symptoms might be caused by less serious conditions, but it’s best to get it checked out either way.
Some type of cancer cells produce hormones that cause other symptoms you might not associate with lung cancer, such as:
- Pins and needles or numbness in the fingers or toes
- Muscle weakness
- Drowsiness, weakness, dizziness and confusion
- Breast swelling in men
- Blood clots
These are caused by the tumour “pressing on or damaging a nerve that runs up from the neck to that side of the face”.
Advanced lung cancer means the abnormal cells have spread to another body part, such as:
- The bones
- The liver
- The brain
- The adrenal glands
- The lymph nodes within the chest, tummy, neck, or armpit
Depending on where the cancer has spread will lead to different types of symptoms.
For example, cancer that has spread to the brain can cause:
- Drowsiness and confusion
- Severe headaches, often with sickness
- Weakness of an arm or leg
Meanwhile, cancer that has spread to the liver might lead to:
- Discomfort or pain on the right side of your tummy (abdomen)
- Feeling sick
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- A swollen tummy (called ascites)
- Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- Itchy skin