Lung Cancer: Symptoms and Early Signs

Lung cancer may present with any one or more of the following symptoms. Sometimes there may be no symptoms, and sometimes other disease conditions may cause similar symptoms. Therefore, further investigations may be required to confirm the diagnosis.

Following are some common signs and symptoms of lung cancer:

  • 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.

Any one or more of the above symptoms if present may require further investigations.

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