The idea of cancer is a very scary one for most people and lung cancer is the number one killer out of all cancers of both men and women in the United States. Smoking is well-known as the number one cause for lung cancer, but someone certainly does not have to be a smoker to get it. Lung cancer is responsible for nearly 160,000 deaths per year in the U.S. Like most cancers, the key to increasing the odds for survival are early detection, which can be trickier with lung cancer compared to other types of cancer. The following are symptoms of lung cancer that should not be ignored.


One of the early signs of lung cancer is a persistent cough that may worsen with time. Sometimes the cough may interfere with sleep and may be similar to a cough that results from allergies or bronchitis. It is easy for some people to dismiss this type of cough thinking it will soon pass, but any cough that persists for more than a few weeks should be evaluated by a doctor.


It’s common for lung cancer to cause pain in the chest area that may worsen with coughing or breathing. Although the lungs themselves are not capable of sensing pain, the areas that surrounds the lungs are subject to inflammation due to lung cancer and it can actually feel as if the lungs are hurting. It’s also possible for lung cancer tumors to exert pressure on surrounding tissue that can produce pain.


Lung cancer can also cause the voice to become hoarse. It’s also possible that a person’s voice could be come noticeably deeper due to lung cancer.


Although a cough that is caused by lung cancer is often unproductive or dry, in other cases coughing can bring up traces of blood or bloody phlegm. No matter what you think you have, if you have not already been evaluated by a doctor, coughing up blood is always cause for concern and should be addressed by a doctor as soon as possible.


Having difficulty catching your breath is another symptom of lung cancer. Activities that you were once able to do without any problem might cause you to feel like it is difficult to catch your breath. It is even possible to feel out-of-breath even when you are not exerting yourself.


Unexplained weight loss is another sign of lung cancer and is also commonly accompanied by a lack of appetite. It’s often the release of certain chemicals that are triggered by lung cancer that can increase the metabolism and result in weight loss.


This may come as a bit of a surprise since we don’t normally associate lung problems with the shoulder. Shoulder pain associated with lung cancer is cause for concern, since it could indicate that the cancer has spread to other areas, but much of the time it is due to tumors in the lung putting pressure on the phrenic nerve that’s located near the lungs. Sometimes shoulder pain associated with lung cancer will also cause shooting pain that travels down the arm.


Frequently feeling tired or weak could be another indicator of lung cancer. The changes in metabolism that are often caused by cancer can cause fatigue – a feeling of being tired that does not seem to go away even with adequate rest.


A lung infection such as pneumonia or bronchitis that goes away and keeps returning could indicate the presence of lung cancer. New research indicates that people who have had pneumonia at some point in their lives may be at increased risk for lung cancer.


Sudden onset of wheezing might be caused by lung cancer. This is another symptom that should always be discussed with a doctor since wheezing can be caused by a number of health problems that should be addressed, such as asthma and other lung disorders.

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