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Lung Cancer Symptoms

The Lung is the essential respiratory organ of pulmonary system. There are two lungs located in the chest or thoracic region. Lungs cover the heart and the principle function of lungs is ventilation. Lungs are made up of thin-walled air sacs called alveoli that exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide.

Lung cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells and tissues in the lung. It can be primary or secondary depending on the origin of the cancer. In primary lung cancer the origin of cancer are lungs and in secondary lung cancer there is metastasis or spread of cancer to the lungs.

Here are few significant symptoms of lung cancer:

  • Persistent cough or new type of cough that does not go away and gets worse over time
  • Coughing up blood or bloody mucus
  • Chest, shoulder, or back pain that does not go away and often gets worse with deep breathing
  • Shortness of breath due to blockage to the flow of air
  • Wheezing or hoarseness
  • Repeated respiratory infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Swelling in the neck and face
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Increasing fatigue and weakness
  • Clubbing of the fingers and toes where they appear to bulge out more than normal

Primary Lung Cancer Symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Wheezing

Secondary Lung Cancer Symptoms:

  • Depending upon the size and site of tumor, the signs of this type of liver cancer become apparent.
  • It is found that 30-40 percent people have symptoms when affected with secondary lung cancer due to metastases.
  • Liver, the adrenal glands, the brain and the bones are certain locations in the body where this cancer spreads faster.
  • There are no symptoms for liver cancer spreading to liver and adrenal glands.
  • Difficulties with vision, seizures and weakness on one side of the body are some of the symptoms when this disease spreads to brain.
  • In case of bones getting affected, there will be signs like pain in the backbone, the ribs and the thigh bones.

Paraneoplastic Syndromes of Lung Cancer: When the chemicals released by the malignant lung cancer cells affect the remote organs of the body, signs to look out for are:

  • Formation of new bones in the arms or legs
  • Clubbing of fingers
  • Anemia
  • Degeneration of brain
  • Skin rashes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Low levels of sodium

Facts and Statistics of Lung Cancer:

  • According to the American Lung Association, nearly 364,996 Americans suffer from lung cancer.
  • It is 15 percent of all cases of cancer diagnoses.
  • According to the National Cancer Institute, there were 219,440 new cases diagnosed and 159,390 deaths caused by lung cancer in the United States in 2009.
  • It comprises 28 percent of the deaths caused by all cancer types in this country.
  • It is the second most cancer in both men (after prostate cancer) and women (after breasts cancer), according to the American cancer society.
  • The average age of diagnosis of this disease is 71 years. 2 out of every 3 people diagnosed with this cancer are above the age of 65 years.
  • The five-year-survival rate of lung cancer is 15.6 percent, which is less than other leading cancer types like colon, breasts and prostate cancers.
  • Smoking is responsible for causing 80 percent and 90 percent deaths in women and men respectively from lung cancer.
  • Men who smoke are 23 times more at risk of getting this disease and women smokers are 13 times more at risk of getting lung cancer.
  • Black men and women are at 40 percent higher risk of getting this disease when compared to white men and women.

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