Lung cancer is often diagnosed late: know the signs and symptoms (2023)

Although it is well documented that smoking kills, over 30 million people in the United States still smoke. It is one of the leading causes of death, but also one of the most preventable. HimCenters for Disease Control and Preventionstates: “Tobacco kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. Tobacco use cost the United States more than $600 billion in 2018, including more than $240 billion in healthcare costs and nearly $372 billion in lost productivity.”

It is estimated that 238,340 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed this year (117,550 in men and 120,790 in women).American Cancer Societyand over 123,000 people will die. The ACS states, “Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for approximately 1 in 5 of all cancer deaths. Each year, more people die from lung cancer than from breast, colon, breast and prostate cancer combined.

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The biggest risk factor for lung cancer is smoking. HimCenters for Disease Control and Preventionsays: “In the United States, smoking is associated with approximately 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths. The consumption of other tobacco products, such as cigars or pipes, also increases the risk of lung cancer toxic mixture of over 7,000 chemicals. Many of these are poisons. At least 70 are known to cause cancer in humans or animals.” Even if you don't smoke a lot and light a pack a day, you're still at risk. According to the CDC, “People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop or die from lung cancer than people who don’t smoke. Even smoking a few cigarettes a day, or smoking occasionally, increases the risk of lung cancer. The more years a person smokes and the more cigarettes they smoke a day, the greater the risk."

Jyoti Malhotra, M.D., M.P.H, ist Direktor der Thoracic Medical Oncology amOrange City of Hope CountyThe Lennar Foundation Cancer Center in Irvine, California tells us: “As a lung cancer specialist, every day I see patients living with lung cancer that is not defined by it. Precision medicine, the combination of molecular testing and targeted drugs, has been a game changer in our efforts to fight this aggressive form of cancer. We have made monumental advances in immunotherapy that alone or in combination with conventional therapies can lead to better patient outcomes. This is good news for people with lung cancer. There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell and non-small cell lung cancer Most types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer, which is less aggressive than small cell cancer.

HimMayo Clinicsays: “Lung cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lungs. Your lungs are two spongy organs in your chest that take in oxygen when you breathe in and release carbon dioxide when you breathe out. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer worldwide.

Doctors believe smoking causes lung cancer by damaging the cells that line the lungs. When you inhale cigarette smoke, which is full of carcinogens (carcinogens), changes in the lung tissue begin almost immediately. First, your body can repair this damage. But with each repeated exposure, the normal cells that line the lungs become more and more damaged. Over time, the damage causes the cells to act abnormally and eventually cancer can develop.

(Video) Detect Lung cancer early

Doctor Malhotra explains: “While many cases of lung cancer can be attributed to smoking, any lung cancer can get this disease and we are seeing a growing number of patients who have never smoked. In addition to tobacco use, “the disease can be caused by, for example, inhalation of secondhand smoke, exposure to substances such as radon, and a family history of lung cancer. It's important to know the facts and seek help early."

Manuel Villa SanchezStaten Island University Hospital's Chief of Thoracic Surgery adds, "It's more common in smokers, but non-smokers can get it because known risk factors include: tobacco smoke, secondhand smoke, radon exposure, asbestos exposure, personal exposure, or family history of lung cancer."

HimCenters for Disease Control and Preventionstates: “Adults who do not smoke and are exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30%. Passive smoking causes more than 7,300 lung cancer deaths among non-smoking adults in the United States each year.

Another myth is that only older people get lung cancer, but loudlyMedicine John HopkinsThat's not true.” The median age of a lung cancer patient in the United States is 70 years. However, about 30,000 people under the age of 50 are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, and about 21,000 of them die at risk. The development of lung cancer at an early age may be partly determined by factors such as radiotherapy for childhood cancer or a genetic predisposition to lung cancer ."

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Doctor Malhotra shares, "Signs to look out for include coughing, which may be accompanied by red-tinged blood or mucus (hemoptysis), chest pain or pain when breathing, shortness of breath or shortness of breath, and tiredness or an unusual feeling of weakness. See a doctor." if you have these symptoms. The earlier lung cancer is detected, the better your chances of success.”

according to dr Sánchez: “Lung cancer is asymptomatic most of the time as it is usually detected in advanced stages with symptoms such as difficulty breathing, bloody sputum, chest pain and others. Low-dose CT screening (LDCT) programs in patients at risk have shown benefits in early detection and treatment with survival benefits."

The doctor. Malhotra says: “The bottom line is that we don't always get lung cancer in its early stages. This is mainly because the lungs are internal organs and it is difficult to tell if cancer has formed. Sometimes people don't have any symptoms until the cancer is advanced. Additionally, lung tumors often quickly spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, including the brain, liver, and bones.

It is difficult to detect lung cancer in its early stages because symptoms may not appear until the tumor grows. In addition, fear of being diagnosed with cancer is widespread, leading people to procrastinate on a doctor's appointment or exam. The good news is that we can better diagnose lung cancer much earlier than ever before. A low-dose CT scan is a quick, painless, non-invasive approach to lung cancer screening. We know that only a small percentage of people who qualify for lung cancer screening get it. Early detection is key to surviving lung cancer."

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Doctor Malhotra suggests: “If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, make an appointment with oneNational Cancer Institute-Designated cancer center where experts specializing in lung cancer can help you access the latest therapies. There is new hope for people living with this disease, and it starts with getting the right diagnosis and treatment plan for you from the start.”

The doctor. Sánchez explains, “There are two main types of lung cancer: NSCLC non-small cell lung cancer (80-85%) and SCLC small cell lung cancer (10-15%). At SIUH, we fight lung cancer with a multidisciplinary team of specialists in thoracic surgery, medical oncology, radiological oncology, pulmonology, interventional radiology and diagnostics, a program focused on the early detection and treatment of lung cancer for the local Staten Island community.

The cornerstone of lung cancer treatment is surgical resection. At SIUH, we have the resources and technology to provide state-of-the-art treatment. We perform minimally invasive robotic surgeries on our lung cancer patients, which are associated with less postoperative pain, faster recovery and discharge from the hospital, and excellent oncological outcomes. The role of medical oncology is to treat lung cancer patients with standard chemotherapy as well as immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Radiation oncology intervenes with standard radiation therapy and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) as standalone treatments or as part of a multimodal therapy. Interventional radiology offers radiofrequency ablation (RFA) as another therapy that has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of lung cancer."

(Video) Lung Cancer: Early Diagnosis, Treatment


What are the late signs and symptoms of lung cancer? ›

Symptoms of advanced cancer
  • a cough that doesn't go away.
  • a change in a cough you have had for a long time.
  • breathlessness.
  • unexplained weight loss.
  • ongoing chest infections.
  • coughing up blood.
  • a hoarse voice.
  • difficulty swallowing.

Is lung cancer usually diagnosed late? ›

Lung cancer is usually diagnosed at a late stage because it often has no symptoms until it has spread.

How long can you have lung cancer before you know it? ›

Patients can (and usually do) live with lung cancer for many years before it becomes apparent. Early lung cancer is largely asymptomatic and internalisation of tumours means patients are not alerted by obvious physical changes.

What are the 1st signs of lung cancer? ›

What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?
  • Coughing that gets worse or doesn't go away.
  • Chest pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Wheezing.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Feeling very tired all the time.
  • Weight loss with no known cause.

What are the biggest signs of lung cancer? ›

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:
  • A new cough that doesn't go away.
  • Coughing up blood, even a small amount.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Losing weight without trying.
  • Bone pain.
  • Headache.
Mar 22, 2022

Can you feel well and still have lung cancer? ›

There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, but many people with the condition eventually develop symptoms including: a persistent cough. coughing up blood. persistent breathlessness.

Why is lung cancer detected late? ›

Usually symptoms of lung cancer don't appear until the disease is already at an advanced stage. Even when lung cancer does cause symptoms, many people may mistake them for other problems, such as an infection or long-term effects from smoking. This may delay the diagnosis.

How often is lung cancer missed? ›

Chest X-ray is the first test used to assess for lung cancer. However, about 20% of lung cancers will be missed on X-rays resulting in a delay in diagnosis and potentially affect a patient's prognosis.

What stage is lung cancer usually diagnosed? ›

It often is diagnosed at stage 3 or 4.

Where does lung cancer pain usually start? ›

Arm/shoulder pain or eye problems.

One kind of lung cancer (called a Pancoast tumor) develops in the lung's upper part. Instead of affecting the lungs, these tumors may spread to the ribs, the vertebrae of your spine, or the nerves or blood vessels. These tumors cause pain in your shoulder blade, upper back, or arms.

Where does lung cancer usually start? ›

Lung cancer begins in the lungs and may spread to lymph nodes or other organs in the body, such as the brain. Cancer from other organs also may spread to the lungs. When cancer cells spread from one organ to another, they are called metastases.

Can You Feel Stage 1 lung cancer? ›

Most early lung cancers don't have symptoms and are found during a routine screening. When stage 1 lung cancer does cause symptoms, they may include: New cough that persists. Chronic cough that gets worse.

What are the early signs of stage 4 lung cancer? ›

Stage 4 lung cancer symptoms
  • Persistent, worsening cough.
  • Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
  • Blood in spit.
  • Chest pain that may be aggravated by deep breaths, coughing, laughing.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Shortness of breath.
Sep 12, 2022

Where is lung cancer pain felt? ›

Chest pain: When a lung tumor causes tightness in the chest or presses on nerves, you may feel pain in your chest, especially when breathing deeply, coughing or laughing.

Does lung cancer show up in blood work? ›

Blood tests are not used to diagnose lung cancer, but they can help to get a sense of a person's overall health. For example, they can be used to help determine if a person is healthy enough to have surgery. A complete blood count (CBC) looks at whether your blood has normal numbers of different types of blood cells.

Will a chest xray show lung cancer? ›

Chest X-ray

Most lung tumours appear on X-rays as a white-grey mass. However, chest X-rays cannot give a definitive diagnosis because they often cannot distinguish between cancer and other conditions, such as a lung abscess (a collection of pus that forms in the lungs).

Does lung cancer cause back pain? ›

Pain in the back, along with shoulder and neck pain, are all symptoms of lung cancer. Many people who are living with lung cancer will experience back pain at some point during their disease.

Does lung cancer make you cough? ›

The main symptoms of lung cancer include: a cough that does not go away after 3 weeks. a long-standing cough that gets worse. chest infections that keep coming back.

How slow growing is lung cancer? ›

On average, lung cancers double in size in four to five months.

How fast does lung cancer spread in a month with no treatment? ›

A 2018 study found that the median doubling time varies by type of NSCLC: Adenocarcinomas had a median doubling time of 261 days. Squamous cell carcinomas had a median doubling time of 70 days. Other lung cancers, which included large cell carcinomas and SCLC, also had a median doubling time of 70 days.

How fast does untreated lung cancer progress? ›

Studies have shown that lung cancer doubling time can vary, from 229 days to 647 days in one study, depending upon the type. 7 It's possible that some types of lung cancer progress within weeks to months, while others may take years to grow.

How long can you go with lung cancer? ›

The NCI add that over half of people who receive a diagnosis of localized lung cancer will live for 5 years or longer following diagnosis. As diagnosis and treatment strategies improve, more people are surviving for a decade or longer with the condition. The survival rates for NSCLC are higher than they are for SCLC.

What stage of lung cancer do you start coughing up blood? ›

In stage 1 lung cancer, people usually do not experience symptoms. When they do, the most common symptoms include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and coughing up blood or blood-stained phlegm.

How can you rule out lung cancer at home? ›

How to detect lung cancer: Symptoms
  1. Persistent cough (especially if you are coughing up rust-colored sputum)
  2. Shortness of breath.
  3. Hoarseness.
  4. Chronic bronchitis.
  5. Chest pain.
  6. Unexplained weight loss.
  7. Bone pain.

What is the finger test for lung cancer? ›

When you press your fingernails together, do you see a tiny diamond-shaped window of light? If you can't see this 'diamond gap', you could have finger clubbing, which can be a sign of lung cancer.

Can you have stage 4 lung cancer with no symptoms? ›

Symptoms. Many people with lung cancer do not experience symptoms until the later stages of the disease.

What happens in the last few weeks of lung cancer? ›

The Final Days

Your loved one's skin may become cool as body temperature lowers, and you may notice mottling (bluish, blotchy patches) on the skin. The dying person often sweats and, even though the skin is cool, it may feel wet and clammy. They usually stop eating and drinking, and this is normal.

At what stage does lung cancer cause pain? ›

Shoulder, chest, or back pain

Most people with lung cancer do not feel pain or other symptoms during the early stages. This is because there are very few nerve endings in the lungs. However, pain can occur when lung cancer invades the chest wall, ribs, vertebrae, or certain nerves.

Where does it hurt if you have lung cancer? ›

Lung cancer may produce pain in the chest, shoulders, or back. This can happen when you cough or throughout the day. Tell your doctor if you notice any type of chest pain and whether it's: sharp.

How long does it take for lung cancer to worsen? ›

Studies have shown that lung cancer doubling time can vary, from 229 days to 647 days in one study, depending upon the type. 7 It's possible that some types of lung cancer progress within weeks to months, while others may take years to grow.

Does lung cancer progress quickly? ›

Lung cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that spreads rapidly. Survival rates are improving but remain low, particularly for SCLC. Early diagnosis and treatment improve a person's chances of living for 5 years or longer with lung cancer.

Is lung cancer still a death sentence? ›

How effective are lung cancer screening programs? The good news is – and we have the numbers to back this up – lung cancer does not have to be a death sentence. The earlier the disease can be diagnosed, the better is the prognosis for the patient.

What are red flags for lung cancer? ›

an ache or pain when breathing or coughing. persistent breathlessness. persistent tiredness or lack of energy. loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.

Where does lung cancer usually spread to first? ›

Where does lung cancer spread? When lung cancer spreads, or metastasizes, it can move to nearby tissues or to more distant areas in the body. While it's possible for lung cancer to spread virtually anywhere, it most commonly metastasizes in the liver, brain, bones or adrenal glands.

Would my oxygen levels be low if I had lung cancer? ›

Low levels of oxygen in the blood: Lung cancer can decrease red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs up to the heart and the rest of the body.

At what stage is lung cancer usually diagnosed? ›

It often is diagnosed at stage 3 or 4.

How does lung cancer progress to death? ›

Sometimes, the tumors shut down an organ. Other times, cancer interferes with the normal functioning of those organs and causes other complications. Lung cancer that spreads to the liver can interfere with the organ's ability to remove toxins from the body, which can cause them to build up and lead to death.

Can you have Stage 4 lung cancer with no symptoms? ›

Symptoms. Many people with lung cancer do not experience symptoms until the later stages of the disease.


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