Lung cancer is a really horrible disease that should not be suffered by anyone. These are certain signs of the ailment that you don’t have to joke with.
Lung cancer is one of the most common type of the disease in the world – with millions of people diagnosed with the condition each year.
A lingering cough, feeling tired and losing your appetite could be mistaken for a virus or even a common cold.
But these symptoms could also be sign of something much more serious – especially as lung cancer is often symptom-less until the disease has progressed.
So, what are the signs you need to look out for – and who is at risk of developing the illness? We’ve rounded up everything you need to know.
How common is lung cancer?
Primary lung cancer – which begins in the lungs, rather than spreading to them from another place – is the second most common type of cancer in Britain.
There are two types of lung cancer – 80 per cent of cases are non-small-cell, while small-cell lung cancer is a rarer type which spreads more quickly.
It is almost equally common in women and men, but it’s rare in people under the age of 40.
NHS guidelines state rates of lung cancer increase rapidly with age, and it’s most common in people aged 70-74.
What are the 8 key signs and symptoms?
Symptoms of lung cancer can include:
1. Having a cough most of the time
2. A change in a cough you have had for a long time
3. Being short of breath
4. Coughing up phlegm (sputum) with signs of blood in it
5. An ache or pain in the chest or shoulder
6. Loss of appetite
7. Tiredness (fatigue)
8. Losing weight
Less common symptoms, usually associated with more advanced forms of the disease, include a hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing and pain and discomfort under the ribs, in the chest or shoulder.
Meanwhile, finger clubbing (a change in the shape of your fingers and nails), facial swelling and swelling in the neck are also signs to look out for.
What are the risk factors?
Smoking is without doubt the biggest cause of lung cancer – and the length of time you have smoked is more important than how many cigarettes you smoke a day.
Passive smoking can also increase the risk – but it’s difficult to know by exactly how much.
Meanwhile, a family history of lung cancer, or a personal history of cancer or lung disease are also risk factors.
And on top of that, exposure to air pollution, radon gas and other chemicals including asbestos can also raise the risk of the disease developing.
How is lung cancer treated?
Treatment for lung cancer depends on the nature of the disease in each individual patient.
Some cases of non-small-cell lung cancer can be treated with surgery, while others may require chemotherapy and radiotherapy, particularly if the disease has spread or if the patient has other health issues which rule out surgery.
Meanwhile, small-cell lung cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy – sometimes in combination with radiotherapy.