Lung cancer doesn’t always present symptoms until the disease has progressed. However, scheduling lung screenings if you’re at risk for the disease can result in an early diagnosis. Here’s what to know to protect your health.
Signs of Lung Cancer
A dry or wet persistent cough is one of the earliest signs of lung cancer. While a cough from a respiratory infection or cold typically disappears after two weeks, a cough that continues for longer could be problematic, especially if it worsens. For example, the cough could start sounding hoarse instead of faint, or include blood or rust-colored mucus.
Additional symptoms not to ignore include breathing difficulties, wheezing, raspy or hoarse voice issues, and chest pain, which can be caused by fluid buildup in the lungs or a tumor that blocks an airway.
Unexplained weight loss can also occur as the cancer develops. Weight loss is associated with all cancers because cancerous cells use the body’s energy. Symptoms like headaches and bone pain may develop as the cancer spreads to other organs.
Cigarette smoking remains the number one cause of lung cancer, accounting for 80% to 90% of cases.
The second-leading cause is prolonged exposure to radon, an odorless, tasteless, invisible radioactive gas released by some building materials. Other risk factors include industrial exposure to chemicals and materials such as asbestos, arsenic, and diesel exhaust.
A family history of lung cancer, as well as secondhand exposure to cigarette and cigar smoke, increases the risk as well.
When to Discuss Lung Screenings With a Physician
Ask your doctor about getting a lung screening if you’re at an increased risk for the disease and have recently experienced one or several symptoms.
Those at a greater risk for lung cancer include people who have smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 or more years, are current smokers, or quit 15 years ago or less. People between the ages of 55 and 80 are also considered high-risk, especially if they have family members who’ve had the disease.
If a lung screening is right for you, turn to Main Street Radiology. Accredited by the American College of Radiology, this facility provides cancer screenings and ultrasounds in Bayside and Flushing, NY. Their lung screenings combine 3D scans with analysis software to accurately detect pulmonary nodules. Call (718) 428-1500 to request an appointment, or learn more about their process online.