What Are the First Signs of Lung Cancer?

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Although lung cancer is asymptomatic in its early stages in many people, a persistent cough, unexplained weight loss, changes in chronic cough and breathing changes may indicate lung cancer, according to Healthline. Chest pain, wheezing, hoarseness, headache and bone pain may be precursors to a lung cancer diagnosis.

Around 40 percent of the time, lung cancer is not diagnosed until it is in its advanced stages, advises Healthline. In roughly one-third of lung cancer diagnoses, the cancer has progressed to its third stage. Because of the lack of symptoms early on or due to the fact that lung cancer symptoms are associated with other conditions, early diagnoses are often not possible.

A new lingering cough not associated with a respiratory infection or cold is a warning symptom of lung cancer, notes Healthline. A change in chronic cough can also be indicative of cancer, such as when the cough sounds hoarser or deeper, or if more mucus than usual is being coughed up. Blood in the sputum should also be evaluated by a doctor.

Changes to breathing, such as getting out of breath easily, can be a symptom when lung cancer is narrowing or blocking the passage of air in the lungs, warns Healthline. Likewise, pain in the chest can indicate that cancer is present on the pleura, ribs or chest wall.