Signs and symptoms for Lung Cancer

Reading time: 2 min

The initial stages of lung cancer do not produce any symptoms and it normally goes unnoticed. It is increasingly common for lung cancer to be diagnosed by chance while performing an X-ray to explore another complaint. In general, symptoms appear when the disease has spread outside the lung. Therefore, most cases of the disease are diagnosed in advanced stages.

Symptomatology depends on the size and location of the tumour. The most common symptoms include:

Person with persistent cough

A chronic cough or cough that differs from normal. This is the most typical symptom; it arises because of bronchial irritation.

Person holding hands to neck, sweating, pale, unable to breathe, feeling short of breath, short of breath, choking or breathlessness

Shortness of breath (or dyspnoea). Caused by decreased lung capacity, the presence of the tumour or some other cause induced by the tumour, such as a thrombus obstructing a pulmonary blood vessel (pulmonary embolism) or the presence of fluid in the pleura (pleural effusion).

Person with lung disease who coughs up blood

Blood in sputum (or haemoptysis).

Person standing with chest or shoulder pain

Chest or shoulder pain. Pain in this region occurs when the tumour has spread towards the chest wall, pleura, ribs, muscles and nerves.

Person with dysphonia

Other symptoms. Associated with lung cancer are voice disorders (dysphonia), poor appetite and weight loss, tiredness, bone and spine pain (if it has spread to bones) or headache and vomiting (if it has spread to the brain).

Nevertheless, the presence of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have lung cancer as they may also be caused by other types of benign disease. When in doubt you should always visit your doctor who will decide whether your case needs to be studied further with some additional tests.

What is Cancer?

General information about Cancer

Read more

Substantiated information by:

David Sánchez Lorente
Laureano Molins López-Rodó
Mari Carmen Rodríguez Mues
Noemí Reguart Aransay
Nuria Viñolas Segarra
Ramón Marrades Sicart

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 26 September 2023

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