According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is responsible for 25% of all cancer deaths in the United States. Between 2022 and 2030, there will be about 236,740 new cases of lung cancer (117,910 in men and 118,830 in women), according to projections. The good news is that, while lung cancer is the most common type of cancer death, the number of new cases continues to drop, in part because people are giving up smoking. According to the ACS, “the number of new lung cancer instances has been on a steady decline for many years.” Early detection is critical, and Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies explains what symptoms to look for.
1 — A Persistent Cough
“A persistent cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse with time is a sure indicator of lung cancer,” explains Dr. Mitchell. “The carcinoma cells in the lungs develop into tumors that will press on the airways and nerves, causing a continuous cough,” he adds. In addition, the tumors cause irritation and fluid accumulation, which can irritate the airways and yield a productive cough. Even though lung cancer isn’t the only reason for a persistent cough, it’s one of the most prevalent. If you can’t shake a persistent cough after two weeks, see your doctor to rule out other causes and start treatment as soon as possible.”
2 — Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing
“Shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing,” explains Dr. Mitchell, “is a typical sign of lung cancer. There are a number of causes for this. Cancerous tumors might grow big enough to compress the airways and affect airflow. The tumors can also produce substances that impede normal lung function. Furthermore, lung cancer might cause fluid to accumulate around the lungs, making breathing difficult. Shortness of breath can be caused by a variety of illnesses, so if you experience this symptom often, especially if you’re a smoker or have previously had lung issues, it’s essential to see a doctor. Lung cancer is a serious illness that must be detected early in order to achieve successful treatment.”
3 — Chest Pain or Discomfort
“While chest discomfort is typically associated with heart problems, it may also be a sign of lung cancer. The discomfort might stem from the tumor pressuring on the lungs or surrounding tissue. It can also be caused by a build-up of fluid in the region surrounding the lungs. Chest pain can occur for a variety of reasons, and it should not be ignored regardless of its cause. If you have chest pain, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Lung cancer is a serious illness that demands prompt treatment; therefore, early detection is critical for a good outcome,” says Dr. Mitchell.
4 — Hoarseness or Chronic Bronchitis
Hoarseness or chronic bronchitis, according to Dr. Mitchell, might be a symptom of lung cancer for a variety of reasons. The first is that the malignant tumor may obstruct the normal flow of air through the lungs, leading to a raspy or muffled voice. In addition, the growth can irritate and swell the vocal chords. In certain situations, the cancerous cells can directly invade the vocal cord tissue. Finally, lung cancer can block the bronchial passages and cause mucus and phlegm to build up. This accumulation can eventually lead to chronic bronchitis and hoarseness. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s critical that you visit a physician as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis.