Lung cancer claims the lives of more patients than any other form of cancer. While the risk of developing lung cancer is greater amongst people who smoke, it can also occur in non-smokers as well. There are two different types of lung cancer; small cell lung cancer SCLC, and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The type of lung cancer diagnosed is determined by the size and appearance of the cancer cells.
The earlier stages of lung cancer are often asymptomatic and can go undetected for some time. Early diagnosis helps reduce the risk of developing new cancers and helps prepare your body to fight off cancer-causing cells in your lungs.
Though you may not notice any symptoms early on, some changes in your health may begin to present themselves as the condition advances. The following are the symptoms of lung cancer that should never be ignored:
Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, is one of the most common symptoms of lung cancer. As lung cancer begins to progress, the lesions and tumors grow closer to major airways, causing shortness of breath.
That pain you’re feeling may not be the result of a pulled muscle. Shoulder pain is another common symptom of lung cancer. Shoulder pain associated with lung cancer occurs when a cancerous growth, called a pancoast tumor, begins to attach itself to the top of the lungs. As it grows, the tumor can pinch and compress certain nerves that affect the shoulders and arms, which causes the pain.
Cancer cells trigger our bodies to produce an influx of calcium. This increase in calcium production forces more calcium into the bloodstream and leads to a condition called hypercalcemia, along with a lack of appetite.
Feeling a little more tired than usual lately? When certain parts of the body aren’t getting enough oxygen, it can lead to anemia or a low red blood count. Cancer cells thrive by extracting essential nutrients from healthy cells within the body. When healthy cells are depleted of their nutrients, energy levels can take a major hit.
Dizziness is a symptom most commonly associated with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) because of the way it reprograms the immune system. It causes the immune system to work against the nervous system, which can affect balance.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or if you are concerned about the health of your lungs, speak with a health care provider today. Paying attention to your body can help you better understand your symptoms, leading to early diagnosis and more options for treatment.