Most people may feel that a diagnosis of lung cancer is a death sentence. Well, this thought is reasonable because lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among women and men. Over 1.3 million people die of lung cancer every year. However, it is important to understand that just like any other type of cancer, if diagnosed early enough, lung cancer is treatable and, in most cases, curable.
In its early stages, this cancer may not present any obvious signs and symptoms. A number of lung cancer diagnoses are made after the cancer has advanced, making treatment quite complicated. As such, pay attention to the following warning signs, some of which will surprise you. This will help you to bring to your doctor’s attention any suspicious symptoms. Early screening will help in the treatment of the disease.
01. Mood problems
A startling connection has been established between first-time psychiatric symptoms diagnosis and lung cancer. A number of people, especially those with lung cancer will be diagnosed with a tumor only after they go for psychiatric care. Symptoms of mood problems may include lethargy, panicky thoughts, fatigue, personality changes, and racing thoughts. However, no explanation has been established to show what causes them. They go subpar without any explainable reason. Bring to the attention of your doctor any worrisome mood problems in you or someone else.
02. A persistent cough
If you have a respiratory infection or a common cold, you may experience a cough. However, this cough should stop in one or two weeks. A persistent cough that does not go away may be one of the signs of lung cancer. Never dismiss or overlook a persistent cough regardless of whether it produces mucus or it is dry. Your doctor should examine your lungs and might order an x-ray to establish the actual cause of the cough.
03. Unexplained Fatigue
A debilitating fatigue, with no clear cause, may be an early sign of lung cancer. It may feel just like the common exhaustion you feel whenever you have a flu or cold. However, if the fatigue is clearly persistent, it could be an indication of lung cancer. Studies have shown that lung cancer tumors release substances into your blood stream, which may affect oxygen levels, adrenal gland function, and the health of your red blood cell as well as other energy production aspects. Before seeing your doctor, explore and work out on other causes of fatigue including overwork, insomnia and overexertion. If the fatigue persists, let your doctor know your concern for him to determine the tests to carry out. Let him know that what you feel has no explainable cause.
04. Changes in your breathing
If you experience shortness of breath or you easily become winded, these could be warning signs of lung cancer. Lung cancer may block or narrow your airway or a lung tumor may produce fluid, which builds up in your chest. If you do a simple task such as climbing stairs and you experience difficult time breathing, your health is at compromise. Don’t ignore these signs as they may be warning you of an early-staged lung cancer.
05. Changes in a cough
If you have a chronic cough, especially if you do smoke, some changes in your cough could be a pointer to an underlying problem. If the cough produces a hoarse sound or becomes deeper, you start coughing up blood, your frequency of coughing increases, you notice more than usual mucus in your blood or you cough up blood, a doctor’s attention is important.
06. A whistling or wheezing sound
If your lungs produce a whistling or wheezing sound while breathing, it simply means that your airways have become inflamed, constricted or blocked. Although wheezing may be related with a number of easily treatable and benign causes, it is also an indicator of lung cancer. This makes it an important reason for seeing your doctor. Let your doctor confirm that the wheezing is caused by either allergies or asthma or lung cancer.
07. Pain in body parts
Some pains, especially in the chest, back or shoulders, may be caused by lung cancer. An aching pain should get you concerned. However, you should not also ignore any form of chest pain: constant, dull, sharp, or on and off. Chest pain resulting from lung cancer is usually because of metastasis to your chest walls or distended lymph nodes.
08. Changes in voice
Your doctor should check a change in your voice. If your voice sounds hoarse, raspier or deeper, and the problem persists for over two weeks, then it could be a more serious problem. Changes in your voice, due to lung cancer, may occur when the cancer tumor distresses the nerve controlling the voice box or the larynx.
09. Drop in your weight
One of the causes of unexplained weigh loss is lung cancer. Energy cells in the body may be used up by cancer cells. The cells may also change how the body utilizes food for energy. If you have not been trying to lose weight but you notice that you are significantly shedding it, seek medical attention.
Some people may also experience a persistent loss of appetite. This could also be a concern that requires the attention of your doctor. The doctor should establish the actual cause of these symptoms because food poisoning, bloating or gastrointestinal illness may present the symptom.
Although headaches may be associated with a number of health problems, it could be a sign that a lung cancer has spread to your brain. The brain metastases cause the discomfort in our head. However, lung tumors may exert pressure on your superior vena cava (the large vein moving blood from your upper body to your heart). This pressure may trigger frequent and persistent headaches.
11. Thickened and painful fingertips
The most common causes of thickening or clubbing of the fingertips is lung cancer. Clubbing and thickening of fingertips are also symptoms of arthritis. Surprisingly, most people associate the symptoms with arthritis, and never think that they could be a symptom of lung cancer. This problem occurs because lung tumors may release chemicals such as cytokines, which spur tissue and bone growth.
As you can see, there are symptoms that you couldn’t associate with lung cancer. Usually, some of the symptoms may be related to other causes, including a common cold and bronchitis. However, your doctor should be in a position to examine any symptom that may be worrisome or unusual. The signs and symptoms of this type of cancer may take several years to develop. In other cases, they may only appear after the disease has advanced.