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Lung cancer symptoms

Lung cancer does not usually causes any symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Once warning signs become apparent, the cancer may have progressed.

In 2012, the NHS launched a series of adverts to raise awareness of lung cancer symptoms, such as a persistent cough: "If you've been coughing for 3 weeks or more, tell your doctor."


What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

Seek medical advice if you have any of these main symptoms of lung cancer:

  • A cough lasting longer than three weeks, or a long-term cough that gets worse
  • Persistent chest infections
  • Coughing up blood
  • Persistent breathlessness with no obvious explanation
  • Persistent tiredness or lack of energy with no obvious explanation
  • Unexplained  weight loss

Persistent chest or shoulder pain

Less common lung cancer symptoms include:

Finger clubbing, in which fingers become more curved or the ends get bigger.

Other lung cancer symptoms

Certain types of lung cancers can cause other symptoms.

Paraneoplastic symptoms or paraneoplastic syndrome come from hormones released into the blood as a result of lung cancer. Symptoms include pins and needles or numbness in the fingers or toes, muscle weakness, drowsiness, weakness, dizziness or confusion, male breast swelling, thrombosis (blood clots).

Pancoast tumours at the top of the lung can cause shoulder or arm pain, or symptoms known as Horner's syndrome. These include a drooping eyelid and a small pupil in that eye.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on February 26, 2017

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