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Don’t Ignore These Symptoms of Lung Cancer

4 min read

By Katherine George

When it comes to lung cancer, recognizing and addressing symptoms promptly can be crucial. In this article, we will explore several symptoms of lung cancer that should never be ignored, shedding light on the warning signs that warrant medical attention. You can learn everything there is to know about lung cancer with a search online right now, which could help spot early symptoms.


Stay vigilant for a prolonged and persistent cough as it could potentially be a symptom of lung cancer. Unlike a cough associated with a cold or respiratory infection that resolves within a week or so, a lingering cough should raise concerns, warns Healthline. It is crucial, especially for individuals who smoke, to be attentive to any changes in a chronic cough.

According to the source, if any of the following symptoms appear, promptly schedule an appointment with a doctor:

  • The cough persists for an extended period.
  • Frequency of the cough increases.
  • It becomes deeper or more severe.
  • The cough sounds hoarse or produces blood.
  • The cough produces a significant amount of mucus.

A medical professional will listen to your lungs and may request an X-ray or other diagnostic tests to further investigate the cause of the persistent cough, notes Healthline. These steps can aid in early detection and timely treatment if lung cancer is present.

Pain in the Chest, Shoulders, and Back

In the early stages of lung cancer, many individuals do not experience pain or noticeable symptoms due to the limited presence of nerve endings within the lungs. Nevertheless, Medical News Today explains that pain can arise when lung cancer spreads. This is because it invades surrounding structures such as the chest wall, ribs, vertebrae, or specific nerves.

For instance, Pancoast tumors, which develop at the uppermost part of the lungs, frequently infiltrate neighboring tissues, says the source. As a result, this leads  to shoulder pain. As a tumor progresses, Medical News Today notes that an individual may start to feel pain in various areas, including their arms, chest, and neck. Additionally, activities such as coughing or laughing can exacerbate chest pain.

Wheezing and Shortness of Breath

Experiencing shortness of breath or easily becoming winded can be a symptom of lung cancer. According to Healthline, changes in breathing patterns may occur when an airway is blocked or narrowed by lung cancer. Another cause can be from fluid accumulation when a lung tumor affects the chest. If activities like climbing stairs or tasks that were previously effortless now leave cause shortness of breath, the source suggests taking notice.

Another possible symptom is wheezing or whistling when breathing, says Healthline. This occurs when the airways are constricted, blocked, or inflamed. While there are benign and treatable causes for wheezing, it can also be a symptom of lung cancer. Therefore, the source advises discussing any wheezing with a doctor. Don’t assume it’s from asthma or allergies. Consult with a medical professional to be sure.

Fatigue and Weakness

A common consequence of lung cancer is a low red blood cell count, known as anemia. This condition can cause extreme fatigue as the body’s tissues do not receive an adequate oxygen supply, says WebMD. Moreover, cancer cells tend to utilize the nutrients needed to sustain energy levels, adds the source. This further contributes to a sense of exhaustion and lethargy throughout the day.

As lung cancer spreads, it often disseminates to the bones through the bloodstream, says WebMD. This gives rise to new tumors or lesions which have the potential to cause significant damage to the bones, resulting in increased fragility and pain. Additionally, the source highlights that imbalances in minerals such as hypercalcemia or SIADH can lead to aches and discomfort throughout the body. If the cancer affects the nervous system, it may weaken the muscles, leading to difficulties in speaking or swallowing, warns WebMD.

Unexpected Weight Loss

Unexplained weight loss is a frequent indicator of lung cancer. To support this, Medical News Today refers to a 2017 study involving individuals diagnosed with lung or gastrointestinal cancer. In the study, 34.1% of the participants lost weight prior to their diagnosis. Additionally, it was found that weight loss occurring before cancer treatment was associated with lower survival rates.

According to the source, there are several factors that contribute to weight loss in cancer patients, which include:

  • Reduced Appetite: Cancer causes a decrease in appetite, leading to less intake of food.
  • Immune Function Changes: Cancer impacts the immune system, causing alterations that may result in weight loss.
  • Metabolic Changes: The body’s metabolism may be affected, leading to changes in energy expenditure and subsequent weight loss.
  • Hormonal Changes: Cancer can disrupt hormonal balance, which can contribute to weight loss.
  • Side Effects of Chemotherapy: Nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy treatment can lead to a reduced desire to eat.
  • Side Effects of Radiation Therapy: Difficulty swallowing caused by radiation therapy can make it challenging to consume adequate amounts of food.
  • Impaired Nutrient Absorption: Cancer can impair the body’s ability to absorb nutrients properly.

In summary, weight loss without a clear explanation is a common symptom of lung cancer, and it can occur due to various factors related to the disease itself and its treatments.

Finger Clubbing

Certain lung tumors have the ability to produce hormone-like substances, explains WebMD. Among these substances, one can cause increased blood flow and fluid accumulation in the tissues of the fingertips. As a result, they have a thickened or enlarged appearance. Additionally, the source points out the skin surrounding the nails may appear shiny, and the nails themselves may exhibit a greater curvature when viewed from the side.

While finger clubbing is not a frequent occurrence, it is strongly associated with lung cancer, warns WebMD. Approximately 80% of individuals who experience finger clubbing will also be diagnosed with lung cancer.

Senior Managing Editor

Katherine is the Senior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat and Childhood. She is constantly striving to live a more active and healthy life, from eating healthy, exercising, and just spending more time outdoors. She enjoys cooking (with wine), walking her dog, reading, and recently joined a yoga studio!

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