Do you smoke? Here are some early signs of lung cancer

If you smoke heavily, these are some early signs of lung cancer that you should never neglect for the sake of your health.

signs of lung cancer
Do not neglect these early signs of cancer. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Indoo Ammbulkar Published on: 21 March 2022, 15:05 pm IST
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Lung cancer in India constitutes about 6.9 percent of the overall cancer cases and is the most common type of cancer, especially in older adults. At its onset, the symptoms are difficult to be seen or felt but as it progresses to the advanced stages, the signs of lung cancer become more visible. This leads to delayed diagnosis of it, resulting in late treatment and poor survival.

As with other types of cancers, the key to curing and preventing lung cancer is to diagnose the disease in its early stages. The treatment is much more effective and symptoms can be dealt with easily without causing too much harm to the overall health. Identifying the symptoms and causes, even the subtle ones, can help prevent the cancer from advancing and start the cancer treatment process. Certain symptoms, which could also be signs of other health problems, may need immediate clinical attention.

lungs and smoking
Stop smoking, for your lung;s sake! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The signs of lung cancer are mainly classified into two types:

Classical and atypical symptoms

  1. Classical symptoms include coughing, difficulty in breathing, blood in the sputum, change of voice
  2. Atypical or uncommon symptoms are unexplained weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite.
  3. For heavy smokers who smoke at least 15 to 30 times in a day, the earliest symptom is coughing which can be the beginning of lung cancer.
  4. Recurrent infection in lungs such as bronchitis and pneumonia in a smoker can be the symptoms of lung cancer.

There may be similarities of symptoms in tuberculosis and lung cancer. One should be careful in treating tuberculosis, especially if you don’t respond to TB treatment in a few weeks, especially smokers. It is important to get radiological tests like X-ray and CT scan of the chest done in cases where symptoms like coughing, blood in sputum does not come under control with routine treatment.

Is only smoking to be blamed for lung cancer?

Although cigarette smoking comes with statutory warning, it continues to be the leading cause of lung cancer. However, non-smokers can also get cancer, especially if you are exposed to excessive smoke. People who work for heavy metal industries like asbestos, arsenic, organic chemicals, or radon gas exposure are at risk too.

To overcome the challenge of identifying these signs of lung cancer and diagnosing them on time, it is crucial to seek medical help at the earliest. Get screened annually and reduce exposure to radiation and quit smoking.

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About the Author
Dr Indoo Ammbulkar Dr Indoo Ammbulkar

Senior Medical Oncologist, HCG Cancer Centre, Borivali, Mumbai

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