There are over 220,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year. Many people don’t realize their symptoms are from lung cancer until their disease is far progressed. And because it’s often diagnosed so late, that makes it one of the deadliest forms of cancer. While not every cough or respiratory infection should make you think you have lung cancer, as you age, you should be vigilant about potential symptoms and get them checked out as soon as possible.
Early detection of lung cancer gives those diagnosed the best prognosis and allows the option of a broader range of effective treatments. X-rays are one of the best and most common diagnostic tests we have at our disposal. At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois, our team of specialists can quickly order a chest X-ray to check for signs of lung cancer or other lung diseases.
High-risk factors for lung cancer
Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, with a staggering percentage of lung cancer patients being current or former smokers or those exposed to second-hand smoke.
Prolonged occupational exposure to asbestos — commonly used in building materials — and other harsh minerals and chemicals can also lead to lung cancer. Occupational exposure is most common in older people, whose exposure came long before we understood how dangerous these materials could be.
Another high-risk factor for lung cancer is environmental exposure. Radon is the most likely culprit of environmental exposure, but it is not the only one. Carcinogens from soot, coal, and certain types of paints like cadmium are also high-risk factors.
The last high-risk factor is simply being of a certain age. People between 55-85 years old are more likely to have lung cancer than their younger counterparts and should be especially observant of the early warning signs.
Early signs of lung cancer
Initial lung cancer symptoms often include:
- Persistent cough or wheezing
- Headache (often chronic) and/or dizziness
- Chest pain, tightness, or discomfort
- Changes to, or a raspiness of, your voice
Diagnosing lung cancer with X-rays
X-rays are currently the most relied upon way to diagnose lung cancer. At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Center, our team can schedule your chest X-ray and discuss the results with you, including the possibility of more tests if the X-ray indicates there is an area of concern like a shadow, spot, or mass in the lung.
If you are in a high-risk group for lung cancer and have any of these symptoms, contact our office at 815-770-2001 or request an appointment online.