Lung cancer is one of the most debilitating and deadly cancers in the United States, and around the world. Smoking directly causes 90% of all lung cancer cases in the Unites States.
Approximately 17,000 of the 170,000 U.S. lung cancer cases occur in non-smokers. Although lung cancer typically develops because of the direct or indirect (secondhand) inhalation of tobacco smoke, it can also develop sporadically, with no identifiable stimulus.
Common Signs & Symptoms
There are a variety of different symptoms of lung cancer that may or may not appear in each individual case. The symptoms depend on where the tumor is located and how widespread the tumor is. Some of the more common symptoms associated with lung cancer, as well as all other cancers, are weight loss, weakness, fatigue, depression and mood changes. If you or a loved one suffers from any of these problems you should consult a doctor immediately.
Other problems associated with lung cancer include fever, loss of appetite, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), fluid in the chest or abdomen, irregular pulse, paralysis, numbness, weakening of hand muscles and bone or joint pain. All of these symptoms are possible with the development of lung cancer, but not every patient will suffer from the same combination of symptoms. If the tumor is incredibly small, as in the size of a coin, almost no symptoms will affect the patient. This means that the tumor has to be discovered via a CT scan or a chest x-ray.
Advanced Lung Cancer Symptoms
If the tumor is larger in size and/or behaves aggressively, then the patient may suffer from a list of the following symptoms: excessive coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing, coughing up blood, paralysis of the vocal cords known as hoarseness of the voice and the possibility of shoulder pain. The coughing up of blood, no matter how much or how little, should be taken seriously.
Even the smallest amount of blood in the sputum should be discussed with a doctor. The shoulder pain only shows up if the cancer invades the nerves. If so, the pain in the shoulder could also spread down the arm. This is known as Pancoast’s Syndrome. The throat could also become obstructed if the esophagus is invaded. This could lead to infection or even pneumonia.
If the tumor spreads to other tissues and organs throughout the body, then the patient will suffer from metastasis symptoms. If the cancer spreads to the bones, the patient will suffer from excruciating pain in whichever bones are affected.
Bone pain more than likely appears in the back, the ribs and the hips. If the cancer spreads to the brain, the symptoms include blurred vision, seizures, headaches, weakness and loss of sensation in varying body parts.