Early Signs of Lung Cancer: What You Should Do

Lung cancer is one of the most common and fatal cancer. It has a higher risk of death, that is why identifying early signs of lung cancer is very important.

A young woman coughing while holding chest

Lung cancer is one of the common cancers around and it comes with certain signs and symptoms. It’s important to be able to identify early signs of lung cancer. That way you can start treatment options as soon as possible.

What is Lung Cancer?

This is a condition wherein the normal cells in the lungs are mutated. And there’s too much division in the cells. Normally, your body causes cells to die at certain stages. And that’s mainly to avoid overgrowth. But in the case of cancer, there’s an override in this normal body function. Which is why the cells continue to grow and divide endlessly. When the cells overgrow it leads to the development of tumors.

There are actually two types of lung cancer. They include small cell and non-small cell carcinoma. It depends on how the cells look under the microscope. The non-small cell carcinoma is more common than small cell carcinoma.

Well, anyone can develop lung cancer. But there are factors that increase the risk of having lung cancer. Such as smoking and exposure to smoke. Also, people with a history of exposure to toxic substances are at higher risk.

Early signs of lung cancer

Early Signs of Lung Cancer

  • Chronic cough: Usually a cough that’s associated to either cold or any other respiratory infection doesn’t last long. After 2 weeks it’s expected that you wouldn’t be coughing anymore. But if that isn’t the case it might be an early indication of lung cancer. So don’t just ignore it. Instead, go see a doctor as soon as you can.
  • Change in cough: Now if your cough has lasted for a long time lookout for changes. Especially if you smoke a lot. If the cough gets deeper and hoarse it could be as a result of cancer. Also, if you’re coughing up blood or a large amount of mucus it could also be an early sign. When this happens to visit a doctor.
  • Changes in breathing: Shortness of breath is one of the symptoms of lung cancer. If there’s a blockage as the result of the lung cancer there would be changes in breathing. It’s important you notice when you have shortness of breath. This would help your doctor in making a proper diagnosis.
  • Pain in the chest: One symptom associated with lung cancer is a pain. It could be in the chest, back or shoulders. This pain might not be when you cough. But whatever pain you’re experiencing it’s important you let your doctor know about it. Also, take note if it’s just in a specific area or throughout the chest.
  • Wheezing: This is a sound produced when the airways are either blocked, constricted or inflamed. It’s also called a whistling sound. This could actually be as a result of many other conditions. But lung cancer can also cause wheezing sound.
  • Drop in weight: This is not intended weight loss but unexplainable weight loss. This can be associated with lung cancer and many other cancer types. A good explanation for this is that the cancer cells are using up the energy in your body.
  • Headache: This as well could be an early sign of lung cancer. This happens when cancer has spread to the brain. At the same time, the tumor might create pressure on a big blood vessel such as the superior vena cava. And the pressure triggers migraines and headaches. 

The Importance of Diagnosing Lung Cancer Early

The truth is finding out early that a person has lung cancer can help save the life of the person. That’s because lung cancer spreads to other parts of the body. And when this happens treating the condition becomes a lot more difficult.

Sometimes a doctor would recommend you have screenings for lung cancer. This screening, of course, is not for everyone. A CT scan is done for the screening. It’s usually a low-dose CT scan. These are some categories of people that are candidates for this screening:

  • A person that smokes presently or someone that has quit within 15 years 
  • People between ages 55-80 
  • A person with 30 pack-years of smoking, could either be that the person smokes 2 packs a day for 15 years or a pack per day for 30 years


When it comes to the treatment of lung cancer it’s dependent on the stage and location of cancer. And also the overall health of the patient. The most common treatment methods are surgery and radiation. For small cell carcinoma, chemotherapy is the treatment of choice.

Lung cancer is one of the most fatal cancers. It has higher risks of death than the combination of colon, prostate and breast cancer. This cancer can be prevented. And that’s by not smoking.

But if you’ve been smoking for a long time and you feel you’re at higher risk of having lung cancer then talk to your doctor. With the diagnostic tools, you can find out if you really have lung cancer or not. Many people that had lung cancer and found out earlier had a better prognosis. This is why it’s very important to know and also lookout for early signs of lung cancer.

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