Early diagnosis of lung cancer is generally associated with the improved prognosis and higher chances of cure. In most cases, lung cancer symptoms are rarely diagnosed at an early stage because clinical signs and symptoms of the disease are generally apparent at an advanced stage or the symptoms are mistaken to be caused by other diseases. Following are some common signs and symptoms of lung cancer, which may help in early diagnosis if attended appropriately:
- Chronic cough that does not respond to treatment and gets worse with time
- Pain in the chest that gets worse while coughing or laughing
- Blood in sputum or phlegm
- Hoarseness of voice
- Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Weakness, fatigue, or lethargy
- Persistent infections like bronchitis or pneumonia that do not respond to treatment
Symptoms of lung cancer may also depend upon the size and location of the disease. Large tumors may produce symptoms due to compression of adjacent structures, for example, compression of the esophagus may cause difficulty in swallowing and compression of the superior vena cava may cause facial edema. Similarly, the spread of disease to distant organs may produce different symptoms depending upon the affected organ, for example, neurological or personality changes may occur in case of brain involvement, bone-pain may occur in bones involvement, and jaundice may occur in case of liver involvement.
Some cases are associated with a group of specific symptoms (or syndromes) like Horner syndrome, superior vena cava syndrome, or paraneoplastic syndrome.
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