Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Did you know that most types of lung cancer don’t have obvious symptoms until the disease has progressed? Learning the signs and symptoms of lung cancer could result in an earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment.  

At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois, our team of lung specialists is committed to offering the best in lung care to our patients. An American is diagnosed with lung cancer approximately every 2 minutes, and we know that early detection is a big key to beating this life-threatening disease. 

As part of our comprehensive line of pulmonary and sleep medicine services, we specialize in treating many lung diseases, including lung cancer. To help empower our patients and promote early detection, our team has created this informative guide, outlining the signs and symptoms of lung cancer. 

Lung cancer 101

Your lungs are at the center of your respiratory system. Your lungs breathe in oxygen to support your bodily functions and breathe out carbon dioxide. 

Lung cancer develops when abnormal cells in your lungs overtake healthy lung cells. Since abnormal cells don’t work like normal lung cells, they can make it more and more difficult for your lungs to function properly as they grow. 

Lung cancer cells typically begin with a mutation in a cell’s DNA. This mutation may occur due to a number of factors, such as smoking, inhaling airborne particles, radon exposure, or changes caused by aging.   

Lung cancer signs and symptoms

The early signs and symptoms of lung cancer often depend on the area of the lung(s) that is affected. Some people may have a slight cough or shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, you should make an appointment with Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine right away. Most people, however, don’t have obvious symptoms until the cancer progresses. 

As lung cancer develops, the signs and symptoms can become more severe or intense. Some of the most frequent signs and symptoms of lung cancer include:

Sometimes people aren’t diagnosed with lung cancer until it spreads to other parts of the body. In these cases, you may also notice bone pain, issues with your nervous system — such as headaches, balance issues, tingling, or numbness — swollen lymph nodes, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin). 

Diagnosing lung cancer

Medical teams frequently rely on chest X-rays to try and detect lung cancer early. At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, we provide in-house chest X-rays, so your provider can get your results quickly. If your provider notes anything that may indicate lung cancer, such as a shadow, spot, or mass, they can order additional testing and imaging to provide a specific diagnosis for treatment.   

Do you want to learn more about the signs and symptoms of lung cancer? The specialists at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine can help. Request an appointment online or over the phone to get started, or take advantage of our TELEMEDICINE appointments.

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