Lung cancer is a leading cause of death in the U.S. but often doesn’t present obvious symptoms in its early stages. If you’re a smoker, have a family history of the disease, or fall into another risk category, it’s important to recognize early signs and schedule regular screenings. Early detection drastically impacts survival odds and treatment, so use the following guide to be better prepared.
Early Symptoms of Lung Cancer
1. Hoarse, Persistent Coughing
A chronic, concerning cough warrants a cancer screening right away. This is especially true for those who smoke tobacco, a risk factor associated with most lung cancer patients. If the cough lasts more than a week or becomes deeper or more hoarse, a doctor may perform a chest X-ray to look for signs of cancer.
Treatments vary based on severity. Early cases may be resolved with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiation therapy rather than surgery or a lung transplant.
2. Chest Pain
Unexplained chest pain can be associated with a number of medical conditions, including lung disease. Pain may also extend to the shoulders or back and change in severity or location. In the case of lung cancer, this pain results from enlarged lymph nodes.
Chest pain isn’t always associated with coughing, wheezing, or respiratory infections. However, you should never wait for multiple symptoms to occur to schedule a screening. Consider exposure to radon, second-hand smoke, or asbestos—common causes that many people overlook.
3. Loss of Appetite & Weight Loss
Cancer cells will use energy to grow and spread, which can translate to weight loss. If you notice a sudden, unexplained drop of 10 pounds for more, see a doctor. Loss of appetite may be present as well.
You can reduce your chance of lung cancer by quitting smoking today. Limit exposure to secondhand smoke and maintain a healthy weight. Try to work out for at least 30 minutes every day, and balance your diet with fruits and vegetables rich in nutrients.
If you have concerns about lung disease, reach out to the professionals at Alaska Oncology and Hematology, LLC. This Anchorage practice provides comprehensive screening, diagnosis, and cancer treatment services. Their team will carefully consider your needs and offer the best solutions in a compassionate manner. Call (907) 279-3155 to schedule a consultation and visit their website to explore their scope of services.