Signs Your Lung Cancer Has Advanced

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

During the advanced stages of lung cancer, there are physical changes in the body as well as the emotional turmoil that you and your family may feel when your cancer progresses. What signs and symptoms should you be on the lookout for that it has progressed? Continue reading to find out.

sleeping during day from fatigue.
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Fatigue is sign lung cancer has advanced

Most people with advanced lung cancer feel extremely tired – physically, mentally, and emotionally, according to the American Cancer Society. Fighting cancer is hard work, and it is draining. Although you often rest, you find it doesn’t help your fatigue. Make sure you are getting enough rest, being active when possible, and managing symptoms that may be contributing to your fatigue, such as pain, nausea, or constipation.

Coughing man.
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Cough that won’t go away could be an issue

Coughing endlessly often accompanies advanced lung cancer, according to the British Lung Foundation. Talk to your doctor about medications that can help reduce the coughing. Try to sit upright, supported by pillows, to alleviate some of the coughing.

Office man out of breath loosening tie.
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Shortness of breath could indicate spread of lung cancer

Feeling increasingly out of breath is a common symptom of advanced lung cancer, according to the British Lung Foundation. Your lungs are becoming less effective. Simple activities, even changing position or talking, can leave you feeling short of breath.

Pushing away food.
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Loss of appetite could mean your lung cancer has metastasized

You may find you lose your appetite during the advanced stage of lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. This is a sign of your body slowing down. You might notice that food doesn’t smell or taste good or you may be nauseas. You'll probably lose weight. There are medications that can stimulate your appetite, so talk with your doctor if you no longer want to eat.

Opioids spilling out of pill bottle.
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Pain symptom of advanced lung cancer

In the advanced stages of lung cancer, you may experience pain, according to the National Cancer Institute. Most doctors will prescribe pain medicine to help reduce discomfort and allow you to rest comfortably.

Hoarse man.
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Hoarse voice could be indication of advanced lung cancer

Some people with advanced lung cancer develop a hoarse voice. It may be caused by the cancer pressing against a nerve, which can paralyze your vocal cords, according to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. Treatments such as steroids, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy can help to reduce the size of the cancer and therefore reduce the hoarseness.

Doctor examining patient that is having difficulty swallowing.
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Difficulty swallowing could be another sign of lung cancer advancement

Difficulty swallowing can be caused by the cancer itself or it can be a side effect of cancer treatments, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. To best determine how to treat it, your medical team needs to determine the cause. You may need to change what you eat, such as switching to mostly fluids or eating small bites.

inflamed hands.
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Changes in the shape of your fingers and nails possible symptom

Some people experience hypertrophic pulmonary osteoarthropathy, which causes swelling of the ends of the fingers, spoon-shaped nails and inflammation in the hands, fingers, knees, and ankles. Your doctor may suggest non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce inflammation and pain.

Edema of foot and ankle.
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Edema potential symptom of advanced lung cancer

Edema, or fluid retention, can be a symptoms of advanced lung cancer, according to the British Lung Foundation. This can be treated with diuretics, which help reduce swelling.

Liver pain.
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Other symptoms of lung cancer spread

You may have additional symptoms, depending on where the cancer has spread, according to Cancer Treatment Centers of America:

  • Bones – bone pain, fractures, constipation, decreased alertness.
  • Liver – nausea, extreme fatigue, increased abdominal girth, swelling of feet and hands, yellowing or itchy skin.
  • Brain or spinal cord – headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with speech, seizures.
Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.