Lung cancer is a severe, potentially life-threatening disease that kills and affects millions of people worldwide. It starts in the cells of the lungs and can spread to other body parts if not detected earlier. Finding and diagnosing lung cancer earlier can greatly improve your chances of being able to treat it and stay alive. That is why it is crucial to be aware of this disease's early signs and symptoms. Early Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer Early signs and symptoms of lung cancer can be subtle and hard to spot because they can be like a cold or bronchitis. Some common early signs and symptoms of lung cancer include: 1. Persistent Cough that won't Quite or Goes Away A persistent cough is a common early sign of lung cancer. The cough is usually dry and does not produce mucus.Chest pain or shortness of breath may accompany the dry cough. Persistent coughs should not be the only signs to look out for, as allergies, bronchitis, and asthma can produce the same symptoms. If you have a chronic cough, pay attention to any changes in the cough, particularly if you smoke. A persistent cough is a common early sign of lung cancer. Make an appointment with your doctor immediately if your cough lasts for a long time, gets worse, gets more frequent, sounds hoarse, brings up blood, or makes a lot of mucus. A doctor will listen to your lungs and may order an X-ray or other tests to determine the cause of the cough and rule out the possibility of lung cancer. 2. Chest Pain Chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath is another common symptom of lung cancer. People often describe this pain as "sharp" or "stabbing," which worsens when they take deep breaths, cough, or laugh. Other conditions, such as heart disease or a respiratory infection, can cause chest pain. See a doctor or a healthcare expert if you have this symptom to get a precise diagnosis. 3. Coughing up Blood Coughing up blood, also known as hemoptysis, is another potential sign of lung cancer. It occurs when cancer cells grow in the blood vessels of the lungs. While a small amount of blood in your mucus is normal, coughing up large amounts mixed with your phlegm is not normal and warrants further investigation. Note that: Coughing up blood can also be caused by other conditions, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or tuberculosis. If you are experiencing hemoptysis, talk with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis. Your healthcare provider may order tests such as a chest X-ray, CT scan, or bronchoscopy to look for the cause of the bleeding and rule out the possibility of lung cancer. 4. Unexpected Weight Loss Lung cancer may be a sign if you suddenly lose weight, especially if you also have other related symptoms. Various factors, such as dietary or exercise changes, can cause weight loss. But if you have other symptoms, like a cough that won't go away or chest pain, you should talk to a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. 5. Fatigue Persistent fatigue or feeling tired all the time may also be a sign of lung cancer. This sign may come with a lack of energy and tiredness. Other conditions, such as anemia or thyroid disorders, can cause fatigue. 6. Raspy, hoarse Voice A raspy, hoarse voice can be a sign of lung cancer. The symptom occurs when cancer cells grow on the vocal cords or in the tissues around them in the throat. Other conditions, such as laryngitis or voice strain, can cause this symptom. Talk to a doctor if you have a hoarse voice that doesn't go away or comes with other symptoms like a persistent cough, trouble swallowing, or chest pain. They can give you a proper diagnosis. Your doctor may order a laryngoscopy, in which a scope is put through the nose or mouth to look at the larynx, or a CT scan or MRI to find out what's causing your hoarseness and rule out lung cancer. Are Symptoms of Lung Cancer Different for Men or Women? Men and women experience the same early signs and symptoms of lung cancer. However, the prevalence of certain forms of lung cancer differs. For example, men are more likely to develop lung cancer than women. It may be partly because men are more likely to smoke, which is the leading cause of lung cancer. But even among people who don't smoke, men are still a little more likely to get lung cancer than women. There are also distinctions in the forms of lung cancer that men and women are more likely to develop. Men, for example, are more likely than women to develop small-cell lung cancer. Women, on the other hand, have a higher risk of developing non-small-cell lung cancer than men. These disparities may be because men and women face different risks and have different bodies. Overall, both men and women should be aware of the early signs and symptoms of lung cancer and the risk factors for this disease. Small Cell Lung Cancer Symptoms Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a type of lung cancer characterized by fast cell growth and metastasis. It is more aggressive than non-small cell lung cancer and is more likely to spread to other body parts. The early signs and symptoms of SCLC may include: Swelling of the face, neck, or upper chest Difficulty swallowing Double vision or other vision problems Headaches Seizures Arms or legs that are weak or numb Other illnesses might cause these symptoms, and having one or more does not always indicate that you have SCLC. You should talk to a doctor to get a proper diagnosis if you have any of these signs. Finding and diagnosing SCLC earlier can improve the chances of successful treatment and survival. Advanced Lung Cancer Symptoms Advanced lung cancer, also known as metastasis, is lung cancer that has progressed beyond the lungs. If you have advanced lung cancer, your symptoms may depend on where the tumor is and what organs or systems it has affected. Some common symptoms of advanced lung cancer may include the following: Pain in the bones or joints Swelling in the abdomen Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice) Change in bowel habits Blood clots Swelling in the legs or ankles Treatment options for advanced lung cancer may be limited. Palliative care can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life. Related Syndromes Some kinds of lung cancer can lead to syndromes or typical signs of the disease. Some examples of syndromes related to lung cancer include: Paraneoplastic syndromes are rare conditions that happen when chemicals made by cancer cells hurt healthy cells in other parts of the body. They are linked to lung cancer and can cause symptoms like muscle weakness, changes in mental function, and abnormal blood clotting. Superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS): This syndrome occurs when a tumor in the lungs or other part of the body blocks the superior vena cava, a major vein that carries blood from the head, arms, and upper body back to the heart. Symptoms of SVCS may include swelling in the face, neck, and upper chest, difficulty swallowing, and shortness of breath. Pancoast syndrome: This syndrome, also known as apical lung cancer, occurs when a tumor grows in the upper part of the lung and affects the nearby sympathetic nerves and blood vessels. Symptoms of Pancoast syndrome may include shoulder and arm pain, weakness in the hand and arm muscles, and abnormal pupil size. Brain metastases: Some types of lung cancer, such as small cell lung cancer, are more likely to spread to the brain. Symptoms of brain metastases may include headaches, seizures, changes in mental function, and weakness or numbness on one side of the body. End-Stage Symptoms for Lung Cancer End-stage lung cancer is a term used to describe cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and is no longer responding to treatment. At this stage, the focus of treatment is often on managing symptoms and improving quality of life. Symptoms of end-stage lung cancer may include: Difficulty sleeping Swelling in the face, neck, or upper chest Difficulty swallowing Double vision or other vision problems Headaches Difficulty communicating Seizures Arms or legs that are weak or numb Pain in the bones or joints Swelling in the abdomen Decreased appetite Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice) Change in bowel habits Blood clots Swelling in the legs or ankles Screening for Lung Cancer Screening for lung cancer involves looking for signs of the disease in people with no symptoms. Screening aims to find lung cancer early when it's more likely to respond well to treatment. There are several screening tests for lung cancer, including: Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT): This test uses a low dose of radiation to create detailed images of the lungs. It is the most effective screening test for lung cancer. People at high risk should go for the LDCT test. Sputum cytology: This test involves examining a sample of mucus coughed up from the lungs under a microscope to look for cancer cells. Bronchoscopy: This test involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on end into the airways through the nose or mouth to look for lung abnormalities. Thoracentesis: This test involves removing a fluid sample around the lungs using a needle to look for cancer cells. Who Should Get a Lung Cancer Screening? The Preventive Services Task Force of the United States recommends LDCT screening for people who are at high risk for the disease, such as: Adults aged 50 to 80 with a smoking history are currently smoking or stopped smoking within the last 15 years. Adults who have smoked a pack of cigarettes daily for the past 30 years. Adults who smoke or have smoked a pack of cigarettes daily for the past 30 years. Not everyone should get a screening test, and this should be taken into account when deciding whether or not to get one. Conclusion If you experience any of the symptoms of lung cancer mentioned above or satisfy the criteria for being at high risk for the disease, consult your doctor. You should talk to a doctor about whether low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening is right for you. LDCT is the most effective screening test for lung cancer. Doctors may recommend it for individuals at high risk for the disease. About 75% of people diagnosed with lung cancer have already reached stage 3 or 4. Receiving an LDCT screening can be a helpful measure in detecting lung cancer at an early stage when it is more likely to be treated successfully. Lung cancer is a severe disease, but researchers are constantly working on developing new and more effective treatments for lung cancer. Talking with a healthcare provider about your risks and any symptoms you are experiencing can help to give you the best outlook for your health. Be proactive in identifying and addressing lung cancer's potential signs and symptoms.