The symptoms of lung cancer can take years to develop, and often there are no symptoms at all until the later stages of the disease. The early symptoms of lung cancers are often mistaken for less serious problems, or they are thought to be related to tobacco use alone. Of course, it is important to remember that lung cancer can develop even in people who haven’t smoked.
Early signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include any of the following:
- Coughing: If you develop a new cough, you have a persistent cough that lasts for more than two weeks or causes pain, or you cough up blood (a serious symptom), tell your doctor.
- Chest infection: Chest infections, like bronchitis or pneumonia, that don’t get better or recur, may be symptomatic of lung cancer.
- Trouble breathing: If you experience shortness of breath or wheezing, see your doctor to find out the reason.
- Chest discomfort: This could be a symptom of several different problems, including a heart or lung condition. If it’s persistent or sudden and severe, get medical attention immediately.
- Loss of appetite: Many illnesses, including cancer, cause changes in appetite. Keep track of this symptom and report it to your doctor if it persists.
- Weight loss: If you are losing weight for no known reason, let your doctor know.
- Fatigue: Excessive tiredness or weakness is common for many illnesses, including cancer.
Late signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:
- Neck and facial swelling
- Aching bones or joints or back pain
- Headaches and dizziness
- Lumps in the neck
Advanced lung cancer may cause pain, swelling, or weakness in or around the chest or in distant parts of the body, which may indicate that cancer has spread.
Conditions other than cancer may cause these symptoms. If you have any symptoms that concern you or if you are at high risk for developing lung cancer, talk to your doctor.
Screening for Smokers and Ex-Smokers
If you suspect that you might have or may develop lung cancer, learn more about SCCA's Low-Dose CT Screening Program for smokers and ex-smokers.