Lung cancer: Dr Amir describes the symptoms
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Around 45 out of 100 people diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK are aged 75 and older, according to Cancer Research UK. The charity says that finding lung cancer early can mean that it’s easier to treat, so if you notice any changes get them checked out by your GP as soon as possible.
Moffit Cancer Centre says there are early stage lung cancer signs, though it says: “In many cases, lung cancer signs do not become apparent or prompt an individual to seek medical attention until the tumour reaches an advanced stage.
“The initial signs, if any, are typically mild and often mistakenly attributed to another, less serious condition, such as the common cold or flu. “
Nonetheless, the organisation says some people may notice one or more vague warning signs that something is not quite right early on.
It states: “It is important to pay close attention to these signs. In general, the earlier lung cancer is detected, the more treatment options a patient is likely to have, so it is essential to begin the diagnostic process as soon as possible.”
- Persistent coughing
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- A high-pitched whistling sound when inhaling or exhaling (stridor)
- A wet cough that produces mucus, phlegm or blood
- Recurrent bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia
Cancer Research says that the most common symptoms of lung cancer are having a cough most of the time, having a change in a cough you have had for a long time, and chest infections that keep coming back or a chest infection that doesn’t get better.
The charity adds that losing your appetite, feeling tired all the time, and losing weight are all signs.
“A cough is also a symptom of coronavirus. It is still important to contact your GP if you have a new or worsening cough.
“They can speak to you over the phone or by a video call and arrange for tests if you need them,” the charity notes.
The NHS has outlined some less common symptoms of lung cancer, which some people may not be aware of.
These actually include changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their ends becoming larger. This is known as finger clubbing.
Some people may also notice swelling of their face or neck, or persistent chest or shoulder pain.
There are some factors that can increase your risk of developing lung cancer.
Smoking tobacco is the biggest cause of lung cancer in the UK. Cancer Research says seven out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking.
The NHS states if you smoke more than 25 cigarettes a day, you are 25 times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker.
The NHS says research also suggests that being exposed to diesel fumes over many years increases your risk of developing lung cancer.
Trials and studies are assessing the effectiveness of lung cancer screening, so there may be screening opportunities in the future.
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