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Signs & Symptoms

In many cases, symptoms do not appear until the cancer is quite advanced. However, by the time a tumor does cause changes within the lungs, the signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing—stridor (a harsh sound with each breath), wheezing, labored breathing, shortness of breath (SOB);
  • Coughing, possibly with blood in sputum;
  • Recurring pneumonia or bronchitis;
  • Chest, shoulder, or arm pain;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Weight loss;
  • Bone pain;
  • Hoarseness;
  • Headaches or seizures;
  • Swelling of the face or neck;
  • Fatigue.

Early Detection

There are no routine screening tests for lung cancer. Detection at an early stage is possible with an x-ray or sputum analysis and some doctors order these tests, especially for people who smoke. However, there is no evidence that such attempts at lung cancer screening have a positive impact on treatment or survival. If a doctor suspects lung cancer, an x-ray is the first step in diagnosis.