Two pieces of moldy bread laid out to look like a set of lungs.

10 Lung Cancer Symptoms

Recognizing Lung Cancer Symptoms

In this article, we're sharing the ten most common lung cancer symptoms, foods, warning signs and treatment options. Consider Xalkori, a medication used to treat certain types of lung cancer that have specific genetic mutations. It works by targeting these mutations to slow down or stop the growth of cancer cells.

Warning Signs of Lung Cancer

Beware of these warning signs:

  • Persistent cough.
  • Chest pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Frequent respiratory infections.
  • Wheezing.

10 Lung Cancer Symptoms

Below are 10 symptoms of lung cancer you should know:

1. Persistent Cough

A persistent cough is one of the most obvious symptoms of lung cancer. In this case, "persistent" means lasting for 2-3 weeks or more. This time frame is key as many different conditions can cause a cough as a symptom. Coughing is your body’s way of trying to remove anything that is irritating the airways, and is perfectly normal most of the time.

However, when a cough lasts for more than a couple of weeks, it should be investigated by a doctor. This is also true if an existing cough suddenly changes or gets worse. Recurrent chest infections or pneumonia could also be a symptom of lung cancer, so these should be checked out too.

2. Coughing with Blood or Phlegm

If a cough is due to lung cancer, it may produce large amounts of phlegm or even blood. This blood could appear as red streaks in the sputum, or the sputum itself could be a dark, rusty color.

3. Shortness of Breath

When a cancerous tumor forms in the lungs, it can press on the airways, making it difficult to breathe. The medical term for this lung cancer symptom is dyspnea, and it occurs when performing everyday activities as well as with exercise.

Lung cancer may also cause fluid to build up around the lungs, a condition known as pleural effusion. This can contribute to dyspnea, making the chest feel tight and making it harder to breathe deeply.

4. Fatigue

It is common for people with lung cancer to feel very tired or lacking in energy. This is because cancer causes the body to work harder than normal, in an attempt to control it and stop its spread.

5. Unexplained Weight Loss

Another common lung cancer symptom to look out for is unexplained weight loss. This means losing weight without making any changes to your diet or exercise regime.

There are several possible reasons why people with lung cancer may lose weight rapidly. Firstly, they may experience loss of appetite along with symptoms such as nausea.

Secondly, tumors in the chest can make chewing and swallowing food more difficult.

Finally, the body is expending extra energy in trying to fight against the cancer. All of these factors can combine to cause weight loss.

6. Chest, Upper Back, or Shoulder Pain

Lung cancer can cause pain in the chest, upper back and shoulders. This pain will be worse with deep breathing, laughter or coughing.

Although there are many other conditions that can cause pain in these areas, you should always have these symptoms investigated by a doctor.

7. Clubbed Fingers

Some people with lung cancer develop clubbed fingers as a result of reduced oxygen in the blood; the tops of the fingers may appear rounded or larger than normal.

8. Superior Vena Cava Syndrome

The vena cava is the major vein that leads into the heart. When a tumor forms in the chest, it can press on the vena cava, causing a variety of issues. These symptoms include:

  • Swelling in the face, neck and arms.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headaches.
  • Cough and shortness of breath.

9. Horner Syndrome

Horner syndrome is a collection of symptoms that can occur alongside lung cancer. These symptoms are a result of a tumor pressing on the nerves that supply the eyes and face. The symptoms of Horner syndrome include:

  • Severe neck or shoulder pain.
  • Drooping eyelid on one side.
  • The pupil of the eye appears smaller than usual.
  • Reduced sweating on the affected side of one’s face.

10. Paraneoplastic Syndrome

Some people with lung cancer experience a group of symptoms known as paraneoplastic syndrome. This happens when the cancer causes abnormal hormone release, triggering symptoms throughout the body. These symptoms include:

  • Muscle weakness.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Fluid retention.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Confusion.
  • Seizures.
  • Coma.

Foods to Eat and Avoid

Foods to Eat with Lung Cancer

  • Fruits and vegetables (especially colorful ones).
  • Whole grains.
  • Lean proteins (e.g., poultry, fish, legumes).
  • Healthy fats (e.g., avocados, nuts, olive oil).
  • Green tea.
  • Ginger.
  • Turmeric.
  • Garlic.

Foods to Avoid with Lung Cancer

  • Processed meats.
  • Sugary foods and drinks.
  • Fried and heavily processed foods.
  • Excessive salt.
  • Alcohol.
  • Red meat (in excess).
  • High-fat dairy products.
  • Foods with additives and preservatives.

Home Remedies for Lung Cancer

There are some supportive measures that may help improve the overall well-being of individuals with lung cancer or those undergoing cancer treatments. These may include:

  • Healthy diet: Focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins to support overall health and immune function.
  • Exercise: Engage in light to moderate physical activity, as tolerated, to maintain strength and energy levels.
  • Breathing exercises: Deep breathing exercises can help with relaxation and lung capacity.
  • Support network: Seek emotional support from family, friends or support groups to cope with the challenges of lung cancer.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to stay well-hydrated, especially if undergoing cancer treatments.
  • Avoid tobacco: If you are a smoker, quitting smoking is essential to improve lung health and overall outcomes.

Treatment Options for Lung Cancer

Treatment options for managing lung cancer include:

  • Surgery: Removal of the tumor and nearby lymph nodes.
  • Radiation therapy: High-energy rays to target and kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Systemic drugs to destroy cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapy: Drugs targeting specific genetic mutations in cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy: Boosting the immune system to fight cancer.
  • Palliative care: Focus on symptom relief and improving quality of life.
  • Clinical trials: Participation in research studies for new treatments.

In Conclusion

As with all types of cancer, the prognosis for lung cancer is best when it is caught early on.

These are 10 of the most common lung cancer symptoms that everyone should know about. Although many of them could be due to a less serious condition, it is still essential to get them checked out by a doctor straight away.

By catching cancer in its early stages, you can greatly improve your chances of survival. So, always play it safe with these lung cancer symptoms and see a physician as soon as possible.

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