Early Signs of Lung Cancer
When it comes to cancer, early detection is generally the key to successful treatment. Lung cancer is no exception. Many types of cancer do not always present symptoms until the tumors have significantly progressed, and other forms present symptoms that are subtle enough or resemble other illnesses not to be taken seriously initially.
Knowing the risk factors associated with lung cancer, and how they affect you individually should be part of every comprehensive wellness and health care plan. Although cancer cannot always be predicted or avoided, understanding the early warning signs of lung tumors can help to increase the likelihood of early detection and successful treatment.
Early Signs of Lung Cancer
There are different types of lung tumors, with a range of factors such as size, location, origin, grade, and genetic makeup of the cancer cells to name a few, and the signs and symptoms can vary depending on the specific type of lung cancer. Broadly speaking, the most common and general signs and symptoms of cancerous tumors in the lungs include:
- Persistent/chronic cough that does not resolve on its own over time
- Chest pain exacerbated by laughing, coughing, or taking deep breaths
- Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite
- Persistent voice loss/hoarseness
- Blood in cough/phlegm
- Trouble breathing/shortness of breath
- Chronic lung infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that do not respond to standard treatment
(It should be noted that exhibiting any of the above symptoms does not necessarily mean that they are caused by malignant tumors in the one or both lungs. Any changes in health or new symptoms should be brought to the attention of a doctor to obtain an accurate diagnosis).
In addition to the standard general symptoms associated with lung cancer, some types of pulmonary tumors are associated with a specific set of symptoms, and are clinically referred to as syndromes.
Superior vena cava syndrome
Superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS) results when the vein is partially blocked or compressed. The vena cava is a coronary vein responsible for carrying blood from the head, neck, torso, and arms into the heart. SVCS can be a side effect of cancer. SVCS can obstruct the airway and lead to difficulty breathing, and therefore requires immediate medical attention.
The most common symptoms of SVCS include:
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
- Swelling in the face, neck, torso, and upper extremities
Less common symptoms of lung cancer related superior vena cava syndrome include:
- Chest pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Coughing blood
- Swelling of chest and neck veins
- Fluid build up in arms
- Accelerated breathing
Getting an early and timely lung cancer diagnosis is the key to successfully managing the disease and symptoms. Any new and unexplained symptoms related to lung cancer that do not resolve on their own in a reasonable amount of time should be brought to the attention of a physician immediately.
Next, read Lung Cancer Surgery