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Lung Cancer: Symptoms

Woman coughing.

What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

Lung cancer often doesn't cause symptoms in its early stages. This is when it's small and hasn't spread. In fact, many lung cancers don't cause symptoms until they've already spread. 

When lung cancer does cause symptoms, they’re often like those you might have anyway if you smoke. For example, some early symptoms of lung cancer include shortness of breath and coughing.

These are some of the more common symptoms of lung cancer:

  • Cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time

  • Chest pain, which might be worse when coughing or breathing in deeply

  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored mucus

  • Shortness of breath

  • Hoarseness

  • Wheezing

  • Appetite loss

  • Unexpected weight loss

  • Feeling tired or weak

  • Pneumonia or bronchitis occurring more than normal for you

Some symptoms can be caused by lung cancer spreading to other parts of the body:

  • Trouble breathing that's getting worse

  • Bone pain

  • Belly or back pain

  • Yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice)

  • Headache, seizures, or confusion

  • Weakness or numbness in an arm or leg

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck

  • Drooping eyelid

  • Problems talking

When to see your healthcare provider

Many of these symptoms can be caused by other health problems. But it's important to see your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have lung cancer. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Richard LoCicero MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2021
© 2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
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