What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?
Early stage lung cancer may not cause symptoms.

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Picture of man coughing What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

In its earliest stages, lung cancer may not cause any symptoms. At first, the tumor is very small. Usually, the cancer continues to grow undetected, without disturbing breathing or other respiratory functions. The tumor may grow to considerable size within the lung or spread to other areas of the body before symptoms appear. As the cancer progresses, symptoms may include:

  • A cough that doesn't go away
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic hoarseness
  • Wheezing or a whistling sound when breathing
  • Coughing up blood or sputum that is tinged with blood
  • Chest pain that may be worse with deep breathing or coughing
  • Repeated bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Generalized fatigue
  • Loss of appetite accompanied by weight loss
  • Swelling in the neck

These symptoms also can indicate other medical problems. If you have them, you should see your health care provider right away.

By Louis Neipris, MD, Staff Writer
Created on 10/19/1999
Updated on 06/20/2011
Sources:
  • National Cancer Institute. What you need to know about lung cancer: symptoms.
  • American Cancer Society. Lung cancer (small cell).
  • Minna JD, Schiller JH. Neoplasms of the lung. Clinical manifestations. In: Fauci AS, Braunwald E, Kasper DL, et. Al. editors. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th ed. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2008
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