Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, among both men and women. It kills more than 1.3 million people a year.
In approximately 40 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer, the diagnosis is made after the disease has advanced. In one third of those diagnosed, the cancer has reached stage 3.
Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until they have spread, but some people with early lung cancer do have symptoms.
9 Early Warning Signs of Lung Cancer
- Changes in a chronic cough or “smoker’s cough”
- A cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks
- Breathing Changes (shortness of breath)
- Coughing up blood
- Loss of appetite and losing weight without trying
- An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
- Bone pain
- Persistent tiredness or lack of energy
Smoking causes the majority of lung cancers and in people exposed to secondhand smoke. People who smoke have the greatest risk of this type of cancer. According to Mayo Clinic, the risk of lung cancer increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes you’ve smoked.
Doctors believe smoking causes lung cancer by damaging the cells that line the lungs. When you inhale cigarette smoke, which is full of cancer-causing substances (carcinogens), changes in the lung tissue begin almost immediately.
Over time, the damage causes cells to act abnormally and eventually cancer may develop.
Risk factors for lung cancer:
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens such as arsenic, chromium and nickel
- Family history of lung cancer
- Exposure to radon gas
Notice: Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
If you go to your doctor when you first notice symptoms, your cancer might be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be effective.