Lung cancer, one of the most common and serious types of cancer, often remains undetected in its early stages. Recent advancements in cancer treatment, such as the introduction of medications like Opdivo (nivolumab) and Keytruda (pembrolizumab), have been revolutionary and can be used as part of the first round of Lung Cancer Treatments. These drugs are part of a class known as immune checkpoint inhibitors, which work by enabling the immune system to recognize and combat cancer cells more effectively. Despite these advancements, early detection remains crucial. Recognizing the early warning signs can significantly improve the prognosis and treatment outcomes. These Lung Cancer Signs are as follows:

1. Persistent cough or changes in cough

A cough that doesn’t go away or changes in nature—for instance, by increasing in severity or producing more blood or mucus—can be an indication of lung cancer. However, this lung cancer sign is often overlooked due to it being common in smokers and those with chronic lung conditions. Still, if you notice that you or your loved one has a cough that is not going away or is worsening over time, it’s important to speak with a medical professional. 

2. Breathlessness or shortness of breath

Sometimes, we all run out of breath. Whether it be from running a lap around the block or playing a game of soccer. However, if you find yourself short of breath or even breathless after very mild exertion, this could be a sign of lung cancer. When the tumor grows, it can block airways and result in breathlessness or shortness of breath. Alternatively, when fluid accumulates around the lungs, it can have the same effect. Still, being out of breath does not indicate with 100% certainty that someone has lung cancer—if anything seems abnormal, it’s just important to keep an eye on.

3. Chest pain

If you notice a persistent chest pain that worsens with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing—a pain that has no other identifiable cause—then lung cancer might be the issue. The pain may stem from the lungs, chest wall, or even the spine, depending on the tumor’s location and spread. In the same vein, persistent back and shoulder pain can also be an indication of something serious. Ultimately, though, these pains may all have a number of other reasonable causes besides lung cancer.

4. Unexplained weight loss

Weight loss can be tied to a variety of lifestyle choices, illnesses, and diseases. For instance, advanced lung cancer can result in the body’s loss of significant weight. Thus, losing weight without trying—which occurs as cancer cells use up the body’s energy resources at a faster rate—can be a warning sign of lung cancer. If you’re concerned about your weight loss, speaking to a medical professional might be beneficial.

5. Hoarseness or change in voice

If there’s a change in voice quality—such as a persistent hoarseness—this could be an indication of lung cancer. More specifically, this hoarseness might be caused by a lung tumor affecting the nerve that controls the vocal cords. Of course, vocal hoarseness can have a variety of reasonable causes, so it’s important to seek the advice of a medical professional if you’re concerned. 

Overall, the early detection of lung cancer is crucial in significantly improving the success of  treatment. The symptoms included on this list have other notable causes, and therefore consultation with a healthcare professional can be helpful for diagnosis.