Many lung cancer diagnoses occur before extreme symptoms occur. But even in early lung cancer you may notice some symptoms. This is why it is important to visit your doctor when you experience any changes in breathing or lung function. Going to the doctor early means an early stage diagnosis for many people. The earlier you catch your lung cancer, the greater your chances of effective treatment and a long life.
Common symptoms of lung cancer include:
When lung cancer metastasizes, it causes other symptoms. These symptoms of cancer spreading in your body include:
Many of these symptoms appear from a wide variety of conditions, not just lung cancer. So having these symptoms does not automatically mean you have the disease. But having these signs means you need to see your doctor for examination, diagnosis and treatment of the condition causing your physical changes.
Some lung cancers cause collections of specific symptoms. These collections of symptoms lead to diagnosis of lung cancer syndromes, including:
Cancers occurring in the top part of your lungs sometimes affect or damage eye and facial nerves. The symptoms related to these problems form a condition known as Horner Syndrome. Symptoms of Horner Syndrome include:
A large vein carrying blood from your upper body back to your heart, the superior vena cava passes next to your right lung’s upper region, as well as by lymph nodes inside your chest. When lung cancer tumors press on this vein, it causes blood to back up. This leads to facial, neck, arm and upper chest swelling, sometimes with a bluish-red appearance to your skin. Many people with this syndrome also experience dizziness, headaches and unconsciousness.
When lung cancers create hormone-like substances, these chemicals enter your bloodstream and cause other physical problems even before any metastases. These syndromes are the first noticed signs of lung cancer for some people, even though they do not seem like lung-related problems due to involvement of other organs.
Lung cancer sometimes leads your immune system to attack your nervous system, causing neurological symptoms and different syndromes. Two such syndromes are:
Lung cancer causing high blood calcium leads to frequent urination, constipation, thirst, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, confusion and other problems
Fingertip bones and other bones sometimes grow excessively or thicken with lung cancer, causing pain.
Each of these symptoms occur on their own or with lung cancer. So having these signs or syndromes does not necessarily mean you have the lung disease. But if you notice any health problems, you should talk to your doctor.