What does lung cancer feel like – unexpected signs, symptoms
Nov. 9 — CORBIN — While a persistent cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain are classic signs of lung cancer, there are a number of surprising signs and symptoms that can signal the disease.
Lung cancer accounts for about 13% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States and is the leading cause of death in men.
Classic or expected symptoms of lung cancer include:
—Cough that does not go away or gets worse
— coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (saliva or mucus)
—Pain in the chest that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
— Shortness of breath — feeling as if you cannot breathe or get enough air
—Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that do not go away or keep coming back
—New onset of whistling — making a high-pitched whistling sound on exhalation
Unexpected symptoms of lung cancer
Not every lung cancer symptom is related to your lungs or breathing. These unexpected signs may include:
— Hoarseness or change in voice.
A lung tumor can press on the nerve that controls the vocal cords, causing your voice to sound strained or hoarse, or to sound lower pitched or softer.
Weight loss that is unexpected can be a sign.
– Bloody clothes.
You are more likely to develop blood clots in your legs, arms or lungs.
— Pain in the bones.
When lung cancer spreads to the bone, it can cause bone pain in the spine/back, pelvis, or large bones in the arms and legs. This pain is worse when you move, at night, or when you lie on your back.
Feeling tired, or feeling tired, that is new or does not go away. This can be the result of many different medical problems, but it can be a sign of cancer.
— Heart problems.
New heart problems such as a fast or irregular heartbeat or new chest pain may be associated with undiagnosed lung disease.
— Swollen face, neck or hands.
This may include a purple tint to the skin.
— Swollen breasts in men.
Large cell lung cancer can affect a man’s hormone levels, causing swelling and tenderness in the chest.
— Changes in the nervous system.
When lung cancer spreads to the brain, it can cause changes in the nervous system such as headache, weakness or numbness in an arm or leg, dizziness, balance problems, or seizures.
“Many of these symptoms—both the classic type and those that are more unexpected—can be indicators of other types of medical conditions, so it’s best to discuss these signs with your health care provider,” said Bridgette Jones, RN, OCN, a pulmonary nurse practitioner. Navigator, Baptist Health Corbin. “None of these signs definitely means lung cancer, but having one or more of these symptoms is concerning and means it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms.”
Lung cancer is a major health problem in the United States. Take our health risk assessment to help you identify lung cancer risk factors and determine if you are recommended for lung cancer screening at Baptisthealth.com/Corbin.
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