Lung cancer symptoms: How to tell if your cough or breathlessness is cancerous – NHS

Lung cancer: Dr Amir describes the symptoms

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Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer, according to the NHS, The health body says around 47,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK.

It adds there are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, but many people with the condition eventually develop symptoms.

Some of these are known to be “persistent” such as a cough or breathlessness.

Other signs include coughing up blood, unexplained tiredness and weight loss or an ache or pain when breathing or coughing.

You should see a GP if you have these symptoms, according to the NHS. Indeed, Cancer Research UK says 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.

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The NHS has also 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.

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.”

The charity says the initial symptoms of lung cancer usually involve the respiratory system, which includes “the nose, mouth, throat, voice box, windpipe and lungs”.

Around 45 out of 100 people diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK are aged 75 and older, according to Cancer Research UK.

The NHS says there are two main forms of primary lung cancer. These are classified by the type of cells in which the cancer starts growing. They are:

Non-small-cell lung cancer – the most common form, accounting for more than 87 percent of cases. It can be one of three types: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma or large-cell carcinoma.

Small-cell lung cancer – a less common form that usually spreads faster than non-small-cell lung cancer.

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.

If you do not smoke, frequent exposure to other people’s smoking can increase your risk of developing lung cancer.

Your risk of lung cancer is higher if you have a close relative (such as a parent or sibling) who has had lung cancer.

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