Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women. The American Cancer Society projects that by the end of 2016, around 224,390 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed, and there will be about 158,080 deaths due to lung cancer. Men have a 1 in 14 chance of developing lung cancer, while a woman’s risk is 1 in 17. While smoking greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer, these statistics include both smokers and non-smokers.
Lung cancer can be extremely serious and even fatal, but knowing the signs and symptoms is vital to catching it early enough to be treated.
1. A Cough That Won’t Subside
Coughing is usually associated with a cold or respiratory infection, these illnesses usually go away within a week or two. A persistent cough that won’t go away may be a sign of lung cancer, especially if the cough continues to get worse.
2. Changes in Cough
If you’re coughing more often and your cough feels deeper or has a hoarse sound, it’s time to visit a doctor. Other cough symptoms that may be associated with lung cancer are coughing up blood or more mucus than usual.
3. Breathing Difficulty
If lung cancer blocks or narrows an airway, or if fluid from a lung tumor begins to build up in the chest, you’ll experience shortness of breath. If you become winded by carrying groceries, walking short distances or performing normal household tasks, make an appointment with a health care professional.
4. Chest Pain
Lung cancer can lead to pain in the chest, shoulders or back. Whether the pain is sharp and consistent or dull and off-and-on, be sure to tell your doctor right away. Chest pain can be indicative of many health problems, including lung cancer.
When airways become blocked, restricted or inflamed, you’ll notice a wheezing or whistling sound when breathing. Wheezing can also be a sign of asthma or allergies, but it’s best to have a health care professional find out for sure.
6. Raspy, Hoarse Voice
If you begin to notice a change in your voice — a deeper, raspier or more hoarse tone — make an appointment with a doctor. Hoarseness can be caused by a cold, but if this symptom is persistent, it can be related to lung cancer.
7. Unexplained Weight Loss
Most of us gain and lose here and there, but an unexplained weight loss of ten pounds or more may be associated with health problems, including lung cancer. Cancer cells can use up energy in the body and even shift the way the body uses food for energy. If you haven’t done anything to lose weight and you’ve dropped a significant amount, there might be a problem.
8. Bone Pain
Lung cancer may not present many symptoms until it has spread. Cancer that has spread to the bones may produce pain in the back or in other areas of the body. It may also worsen at night. Lung cancer is also associated with shoulder, arm or neck pain. If you’re experiencing something more than minor aches, it’s time to consult a professional.