Symptoms of lung cancer are not always easy to detect in the early stages, but usually catching it early gives the best chances of treating it. Besides common symptoms like a persistent cough, here are some signs to take note of
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This means that this type of cancer is often detected only after is has spread.
Every year nearly 40,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer with most who are diagnosed being older than 60 and/or smokers.
The illness can also be caused by second-hand smoke, radiation and substances like asbestos, chromium and nickel compounds.
The most common form of lung cancer occurs in the airways leading into the lungs, and this often causes symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing and a having persistent cough with blood or phlegm.
Very often many of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions as well, but maintaining your general physical health and avoiding risk factors are the first steps in reducing the risk of catching lung cancer too late.
How does lung cancer affect your arm and shoulder?
If a tumour is located at the top of the lung it can create pressure on nerves and blood vessels going into the arm. This can then present as pain and weakness in the limbs. Often, a persistent pins and needles feeling accompanies this weakness.
Another sign which occurs in the early stages of lung cancer is the clubbing of fingers, where your fingertips because swollen from a lack of oxygen.
Besides causing pain or weakness in the arm, shoulders and sometimes the chest, in some cases, the tumour might press against blood flow to the head, resulting in swelling around the face as well.
What are some other signs and symptoms of lung cancer?
The most common symptoms of lung cancer are :
- a cough that doesn’t go away after 2 or 3 weeks
- a long-standing cough that gets worse
- chest infections that keep coming back
- coughing up blood
- an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
- persistent breathlessness
- persistent tiredness or lack of energy
- loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
The tumour might also release large amounts of hormones that cause symptoms further away in the body. Similar to other forms of cancer, those with lung cancer may find themselves experiencing fatigue and weight loss as well.
Quite often lung cancer can present with lung infections. So if have been suffering from a long-term lung infection that hasn’t responded to antibiotics or other treatments, consult your GP and investigate for lung cancer.
How to diagnose and treat lung cancer?
If you believe you’re showing signs of lung cancer, your doctor can arrange for you to have a chest X-ray. This is an initial test which can can identify abnormal structures in the lung that are indicative of cancer, but it doesn’t confirm a positive diagnosis of the illness.
Usually after this, a CAT scan which produces three dimensional image of the lungs as well as a biopsy from the lymph glands to identify if you have lung cancer and further whether the cancer has spread out of the lungs.
Your doctors will decide on the course of treatment only after these tests. It’s always better if the illness is identified early as there will be more options with the potential to cure it.
More advanced stages of lung cancer, can be difficult to cure, but treatments can still slow the progression of the disease and reduce some of the more painful symptoms.
If you are worrying about lung cancer, you should see your GP or visit the NHS site for more information.