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Early Signs of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is an especially tricky condition, because it is often asymptomatic, or invisible, until it has become more advanced. Sometimes, there are small indicators a person may notice, but not realize these could be related to the condition. Regardless, the best chances of beating lung cancer come along with an early diagnosis. Lung cancer diagnosed at a later stage may be harder to treat. If you are worried about developing lung cancer, or are worried about a loved one, here are some early signs to watch out for.

A change in cough

A new cough that is persistent or a change in an old existing chronic cough (such as a smoker’s cough) can be signs of cancer development. Oftentimes, we put off investigating a simple cough, thinking it just may be a cold or the flu, however, this could be a sign that something is wrong. Also, new fluid that comes up as a result of a cough, especially if it is bloody in nature, can be a huge red flag. Hoarseness may also accompany this cough, or may be present without it. Either way, this is another potentially cough-related symptom to check out.

Breathing changes

If you notice shortness of breath doing things you normally do just fine every day, this could be a sign that something is wrong. Obviously, if you are exercising or exerting yourself, you will become short of breath, however, if you’re noticing that just walking from room to room, or doing one flight of stairs leaves you feeling desperate for air, there may be a bigger issue at play. Also, if you notice a wheezing in you breathing that hasn’t been present before, it may be time to investigate.

Weight changes

If you begin losing a significant amount of weight without trying, your body may be telling you something is up. Keep an eye on any weight changes, and bring them to your doctor’s attention immediately.


Pain can come in various forms and for various reasons, however, some can be indicative of lung cancer. Pain in your chest, shoulders, or back that is new and persistent, could be a result of your body fighting the condition. Additionally, bone pain or persistent headaches that you haven’t experienced before can also be causes for concern.

Ultimately, it is hard to predict the earliest signs of lung cancer, because it often presents without any symptoms for a long time. If you are at risk for developing lung cancer, you may want to ask your doctor about lung cancer screening and make regular appointments to monitor your overall health.1

  1. Buccheri G, and Ferrigno D. “Lung cancer: clinical presentation and specialist referral time.” European Respiratory Journal. 2004. Available from: