The vast majority of individuals who experience a persistent dry cough do not have lung cancer; however, it can be an early symptom of the disease, according to WebMD. A chronic cough can also be caused by allergies, asthma and postnasal drip, claims Mayo Clinic.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, says the National Cancer Institute. The early symptoms of lung cancer include shortness of breath, chest pains and a persistent cough that worsens over time, states the American Cancer Society. In nonsmokers, a dry cough is very rarely a sign of a serious condition such as lung cancer.