In just the UK, a staggering 1 in every 14 people will suffer from lung cancer during their lifetime. Unfortunately, lung cancer does not have a great survival rate and one of the biggest reasons is because often diagnosis happens in the latter stages of the disease. This late diagnosis is largely due to a lack of awareness of the symptoms. Only 27% of patients survive for longer than a year following their diagnosis. Of those 27%, patients who are diagnosed during the early stages of lung cancer have a 43-78% chance of surviving for up to five years following their diagnosis. Whereas survival rates past a year for those who have their cancer diagnosed during the later stages can be as low as 10%.
Because of this, it is absolutely crucial that people make themselves aware of the early symptoms of lung cancer so that they can go to a doctor for an assessment and possible diagnosis as quickly as possible. You may find that when you go to the doctor’s you are simply reassured that your symptoms do not equate to cancer of the lungs. But, if you are unfortunately diagnosed, the earlier you get the diagnoses, the better. Here are some early signs of lung cancer to look out for, however these do not give a definitive answer, they are just a suggestion that you need to go to your doctor for a check-up.
Persistent coughing: Although coughing is a symptom of many illnesses (the majority of which are relatively harmless), persistent coughing may indicate a problem. If your cough has lasted for a several weeks or has worsened over time, it might be a sign of lung cancer. Also, bringing up large amounts of phlegm, especially if it contains blood, can be a prominent symptom.
Noisy breathing: If someone is making noises when they are breathing it is always a cause for concern. If someone is having difficulties breathing and/or is wheezing (stridor), it could be a sign of a chest infection, asthma or allergic reaction. However, it could also be an indication of lung cancer. Any trouble breathing should always be checked out.
Pain: In your shoulder, back and chest which isn’t caused by persistent coughing.
Tiredness: Poor lung function (which could be caused by this type of cancer) will mean that your body isn’t sending enough oxygenated blood to organs and muscles in your body. Because of this you may become extremely tired and your muscles may even begin to waste (cachexia.)
A loss in your appetite and weight loss: This isn’t just a symptom of lung cancer exclusively but is a symptom of many cancers. Professionals remain unsure of why this is the case however it is certainly one to be aware of.