Lung cancer: Signs and symptoms to look out for
Emily was the broadcaster’s health and science editor and reported from the frontlines during the Covid pandemic.
While tributes from her colleagues pour in, Emily’s death is a stark reminder of a disease that more than 43,000 people are diagnosed with every year in the UK.
Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer, and worryingly there are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms usually develop as the condition progresses.
Like all cancers, the earlier you spot symptoms, the more successful treatment may be.
The NHS lists the “main symptoms” to look out:
- a cough that does not go away after three weeks
- a long-standing cough that gets worse
- chest infections that keep coming back
- coughing up blood
- an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
- persistent breathlessness
- persistent tiredness or lack of energy
- loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
Less common symptoms that may appear include:
- changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their ends becoming larger (this is known as finger clubbing)
- difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or pain when swallowing
- a hoarse voice
- swelling of your face or neck
- persistent chest or shoulder pain
The health body advises to see a GP if you have any of the main symptoms of lung cancer or any of the less common symptoms.
While most cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking, people who have never smoked can also develop the condition.
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The health body says: “Smoking cigarettes is the single biggest risk factor for lung cancer. It’s responsible for more than 7 out of 10 cases.
“Tobacco smoke contains more than 60 different toxic substances, which are known to be carcinogenic (cancer-producing).
“If you smoke more than 25 cigarettes a day, you are 25 times more likely to get lung cancer than someone who does not smoke.”
Stopping smoking as soon as possible is the best way to prevent lung cancer and other serious conditions. A balanced diet and regular exercise are also recommended.
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