Lung cancer is now the most common cause of deaths by cancer. While cigarette smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, half of lung cancers are not linked to smoking and their etiology is unknown. What we do know is that early detection saves lives. When lung cancer is diagnosed at stage 1, there is a 45 to 50 percent of survival, compared to stage 4 survival rates of one percent.
Here are some of the early signs of lung cancer:
A Cough That Doesn’t Go Away – When you have a chronic cough, your natural tendency is to assume it is allergies, or a leftover cough from a cold. If you have asthma, COPD, allergies or gastroesophageal reflux, you will naturally assume the cough is part of that condition. However, a cough that persists more than a few weeks is a danger sign.
Coughing Up Blood (Hemoptysis) – Coughing up blood is a common symptom of lung cancer. In the beginning, it may be only a small amount of blood-tinged phlegm.
Shortness of Breath With Activity – One early sign of potential lunch cancer is a shortness of breath experienced with activity. It’s easy to assume you’re slowing down because of being older, or out-of-shape, or maybe a bit overweight. But if you find you are reluctant to take a long walk, or have trouble breathing during sex, pay attention.
Pain or Aching in Your Shoulder, Back, Chest, or Arm – Lung tumors can press against nerves in the shoulder, chest, arm or back, even before you experience coughing or trouble breathing. If you have pain in any of these areas, take it seriously. Approximately half of lung cancer patients had pain, often increased with coughing and breathing.
Repeated Infections Such as Bronchitis and Pneumonia – Lung cancer is often discovered when a person is treated for bronchitis or pneumonia, particularly repeated infections Lung tumors can obstruct airways and create infection.
Any Abnormal Symptoms or a General Decline in Health – If you notice any unusual symptom occurring in your body, including pain anywhere, fatigue, decreased appetite, an unintended weight loss, or even depression, that should be cause for concern.
Many people do not notice any symptoms before they are diagnosed. There is no real screening test for lung cancer, but people aged 55 to 74, who have smoked for 30 years, should have a CT scan. CT screening has been shown to reduce the risk of death from lung cancer by 20 percent. You may also want this screening if you’ve been exposed to radon gas or have a family history of lung cancer. And of course, if you experience any of the signs above, go immediately to be checked. Early diagnosis can save your life.