As with most cancers, the earlier you detect lung cancer the better your chances of survival. In fact, when it’s caught in the first stages, there’s an almost 50% survival rate after five years. This is a remarkable number considering the fact that overall, lung cancer has only a 15% survival rate.
So the earlier it’s diagnosed the better.
And that’s why being aware of the signs of lung cancer can mean the difference between surviving and becoming a statistic.
The Early Signs
Since the early signs of lung cancer can easily be mistaken for other conditions, it’s often difficult to take them seriously. However, if you’re experiencing a chronic cough that doesn’t appear related to a virus or allergy, wheezing, chest pain, bouts of bronchitis, or a persistent fever … it’s time to pay attention.
Lung cancer symptoms are often related to the location of the lesions, which settle into the tissues of the lung first. That’s why the early signs tend to reflect common cold, flu, and bronchial illnesses. Once the cancer moves beyond the bronchia, new symptoms arise.
The Later Signs
Once lung cancer has metastasize and moved beyond the bronchia, the signs can expand dramatically. For instance, if the cancer has spread to the brain, then common signs might include blurred vision, stroke, and migraines. As you can see, these are serious symptoms that could be related to any number of illnesses. The point is this: don’t dismiss them.
In addition, signs such as depression, weight loss, fatigue, shoulder pain, difficulty swallowing, and hoarseness should be taken seriously.
When To See A Doctor
While you don’t want to be running to your doctor every time you get the sniffles, if the above signs show themselves, especially if they’re persistent, it’s better to be safe than sorry. This is particularly true if you’ve been a smoker or are currently smoking, or if you’ve ever been exposed to asbestos over an extended period.
It only takes a few hours out of your life to make an appointment and visit your doctor. Here are the signs that should inspire action:
– Unexplained loss of weight
– Persistent shortness of breath
– Stubborn respiratory infections that keep coming back
– A chronic cough that has no apparent cause
– Pain in your chest
– Fatigue (again, if it has no apparent cause)
The point to remember is that your immune system is busy fighting the cancer. This is why you may find yourself constantly run down and battling nagging infections. It’s also one of the reason you may experience mood changes and irritability.
There is a caveat, unfortunately. Nearly a quarter of the people diagnosed with lung cancer never experience any symptoms at all. So while these lung cancer signs can serve as red flags, their absence doesn’t necessarily mean everything is just fine. Another reason to see your doctor for an annual checkup.