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7 Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

The HealthCentral Editorial Team Mar 28th, 2012 (updated Mar 25th, 2015)
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In this slideshow, we take a look at 7 common signs and symptoms of lung cancer.

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Could it be lung cancer?
Could it be lung cancer?

About 25 percent of people who have lung cancer will show no symptoms before they're diagnosed. These patients' cancer is often diagnosed from a routine chest X-ray or from a CT scan done for other reasons.

But most people who are diagnosed with lung cancer do have signs and symptoms of the disease. In this slideshow, we take a look at 7 common signs and symptoms of lung cancer.

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Wheezing
Wheezing

Wheezing--a whistling sound made when someone with a constricted airway exhales--is a symptom of many lung conditions, including lung cancer.

In lung cancer patients, wheezing can be caused by a tumor that is pressing on and narrowing an airway.

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Difficulty swallowing
Difficulty swallowing

If lung cancer has invaded a patient's esophagus, he or she may experience pain or difficulty while swallowing.

This symptom, called dysphagia, can seriously affect patients' quality of life. In fact, a European study of 391 people with lung cancer found that those who reported the most pain or problems with swallowing had a greater chance of dying from the disease.

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Shoulder pain and pain on the outside of the arm
Shoulder pain and pain on the outside of the arm

Lung cancer that has invaded nerve cells can cause a condition known as Pancoast's Syndrome.

Pancoast's Syndrome is a type of shoulder pain that radiates down the outside of the patient's arm.

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Hoarseness
Hoarseness

Like Pancoast's Syndrome, lung cancer that has invaded the nerves can interfere with or paralyze the vocal cords.

This can cause patients to experience hoarseness when they speak.

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Chest pain
Chest pain

About 25 percent of people who have lung cancer will experience chest pain.

Lung cancer patients who have chest pain describe it as dull, persistent, and aching, and it may involve other areas around the lungs.

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Coughing
Coughing

If you're a smoker who is suddenly experiencing a cough, or if you're a former smoker who suddenly develops a cough not related to a cold or other respiratory infection, you should see your physician. This could be a sign of lung cancer.

Also, coughs that don't go away or that get worse over time can also be an indicator of lung cancer.

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Hemoptysis
Hemoptysis

Hemoptysis is the coughing up of blood, and it is one of the most common symptoms of lung cancer.

Experts say coughing up any amount of blood is a sign you should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.

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