What are the Signs of Lung Cancer?

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Published on November 02, 2021

What are the Signs of Lung Cancer?

Illustration of human lungs superimposed on a person's chest with caption reading "What are the Signs of Lung Cancer?"Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women. Unfortunately, it often goes undetected until the later stages of the disease when it has already started wreaking havoc on your body—only about 16% of lung cancer cases are caught early.

Although current and former smokers are most at risk, anyone can get lung cancer. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of the disease and to get screened if you qualify to do so. This may make it more likely that lung cancer will be detected at an early stage, when it’s most treatable.

Symptoms

Although symptoms typically don’t appear at the earliest stages, the most common symptoms when they do appear are:

  • A persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored spit
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Recurrent infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia

If you have any of these symptoms, don’t wait to see a doctor and ask about getting screened for lung cancer. The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the higher the odds of long-term survival after diagnosis.

Screening

PIH Health offers a lung cancer screening exam that helps identify cancer before the patient starts to experience symptoms. The screening exam, low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), is approved for patients who have a high-risk of developing lung cancer. The American Cancer Society® recommends that people at high risk for lung cancer get this screening done yearly, and studies have shown that having a yearly LDCT scan can help reduce the risk of lung cancer death by 20%.

High-risk individuals need to meet all of the following criteria to qualify for screening:

  • 55 to 80 years old and in fairly good health
  • Currently smoker or have quit in the past 15 years
  • Have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for over 30 years

If you meet the above criteria, you can schedule your lung cancer screening today by calling the PIH Health Lung Cancer Screening Program at 562.967.2892.

Prevention

It’s not possible to completely prevent lung cancer, but there are things you can do to lower your risk. The number one thing is to stay away from all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and e-cigarettes. If you currently smoke, it’s never too late to quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Also avoid second-hand smoke. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of lung cancer, causing 80-90% of all lung cancer deaths.

In addition to not smoking, a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables may help reduce risk. Getting your home tested for radon and avoiding potential carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) at work are other ways to potentially lower your risk of developing lung cancer.

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The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.