A cough that won't quit, hoarseness, difficulty breathing. If you've ever experienced these symptoms, you may have assumed you were coming down with a cold or suffering from seasonal allergies — and you were probably right. However, if these symptoms continue for some time, they can also indicate a much bigger problem: lung cancer.
Most people with lung cancer are diagnosed after the disease has spread, since most lung cancers don't show symptoms until they've advanced significantly. But in some cases, there are ways to identify the symptoms of lung cancer in its early stages, improving your chances of treatment. These symptoms are especially important to look out for if you're a smoker, are between the ages of 55 and 80 or have smoked in the past 15 years, since these factors put you at a higher risk for lung cancer.
The early signs of lung cancer can include:
A typical cough that comes along with a cold or a respiratory infection will fade after a couple of weeks, but a cough that doesn't go away or gets progressively worse can be a sign of lung cancer.
Lung cancer can cause the lymph nodes to enlarge and can spread to the ribs, chest or lining of the lungs, causing pain in the shoulders, chest or back. This pain can be dull, sharp, constant or irregular.
Hoarseness is usually a symptom of a simple sore throat or cold, but it can also be a sign of lung cancer. If you experience vocal hoarseness that lasts more than two weeks, have it checked out by your healthcare provider.
Being unable catch your breath or making a wheezing noise when you breathe are typically signs of allergies or asthma. But they can also be caused by a tumor blocking or narrowing your airway.
Weight loss isn't always a positive thing for your health, especially if you haven't made any recent changes to your diet or exercise routine. If you're experiencing unexpected or unexplained weight loss, check in with your healthcare provider.
Keep in mind that these symptoms are usually caused by something other than cancer and aren't something you should panic over. However, if you do experience one or many of these symptoms for more than a week or two, it's a good idea to set up an appointment with your primary care provider.
Early detection greatly increases chances for a positive outcome after treatment. We offer low-dose CT scans to help diagnose lung cancer at an early stage and help with treatment options. Learn more by visiting GoshenLungScreening.com or by calling (574) 364-2400.