Many patients come to us not because of symptoms, but because a test for something else (a chest X-ray or CT scan) has shown a suspicious spot or abnormality. Not every spot, mass or nodule turns out to be lung cancer, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible. If it is cancer, early treatment can lead to better outcomes.
Many factors affect whether a person may develop lung cancer. Some of the more serious risk factors include:
- Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
- Exposure to substances such as radon gas, asbestos and other carcinogens
- Family history
If you think you might be at a higher risk for developing lung cancer, talk to your doctor about what you can do. To learn more about risk factors for lung cancer, visit: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/lung.
Because many people with lung cancer do not have symptoms until the cancer has spread, it is important to be aware of symptoms that might indicate a problem. These symptoms are not always caused by cancer, but it’s essential to discuss any possible problems with your doctor. Some common warning signs for lung cancer include:
- A new cough, a cough that does not go away or one that gets worse over time
- Dull, aching, persistent chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Recurring lung infections (bronchitis, pneumonia, etc.)
- Wheezing or hoarseness
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
For more information on lung cancer warning signs and symptoms, visit: www.cancer.org.
Suspected lung cancer generally takes the form of a mass, nodule, spot or lesion in the lung. It can also appear as infiltrates, which look like pneumonia, but do not resolve with antibiotics — or other abnormal findings in the lung that don’t resolve on their own. These abnormalities can appear in different locations.