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Health and Fitness News

A Cough That Won’t Quit

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer.

Each year, lung cancer causes the most cancer-related deaths around the world. And while smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, people who have never smoked a cigarette in their lives can get the dreaded disease.

However, the more cigarettes you smoke and the longer you smoke, the greater your chances of developing lung cancer.

Like many cancers, lung cancer doesn’t cause signs or symptoms in the early stages. As the disease progresses, a number of frustrating symptoms show up. Here are a few of the most common.

Persistent Cough

A common symptom of lung cancer is a new cough that won’t seem to quit. Coughs that come with a cold or infection usually last a week or two. If you have a new cough that lasts longer than a typical cough, see your doctor. It could be cancer. The cough may be dry or it may produce mucus.

A Cough that Changes

If you smoke, you may be used to a chronic cough. It’s just part of life. But if you notice your usual cough changes, something may be wrong. You may start to cough more often, it may sound differently, or it may begin to produce blood or more mucus. Regardless, get it checked out.

Chest Pain

Be wary of pain in your chest, back, or shoulders. The pain may come and go or be constant. It may feel dull, sharp, or just achy. Pain may worsen when you cough, laugh, or take a deep breath.

Shortness of Breath

It may be hard to get a full breath or you may feel easily winded when trying to do normal, everyday activities. You used to climb the stairs with no problem, but now you feel out of breath when you reach the top. These changes in breathing may indicate that lung cancer is blocking or narrowing an airway. Shortness of breath can also be a sign that fluid is building up in the chest. Don’t wait to get screened!

A Change in Your Voice

You might not notice that your voice sounds different, but someone else may. If your voice sounds raspy, deeper than usual, or hoarse for longer than two weeks, don’t ignore it. Make an appointment to see your doctor. Hoarseness may be caused by a tumor that’s pressing on the nerves that control your voice box.


Lung cancer can narrow, block, or inflame your airways. When this happens, you may start to wheeze. Wheezing can also be caused by easily treatable conditions such as allergies or asthma. But if you notice a whistling sound when you breathe, call your doctor to be on the safe side.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Like other cancers, lung cancer can result in unexplained weight loss. Cancer may change the way your body uses energy from food or cause you to lose your appetite. Sometimes, the cancer cells themselves use up extra energy. If you aren’t trying to lose weight and drop 10 pounds or more, see your doctor.

Pain in Your Bones

Late stage lung cancer can spread to other parts of the body, including your bones. When this happens you may feel pain in your bones, especially in your back. The pain may worsen when you move or at night when lying on your back.


Late stage lung cancer can spread to your brain and cause headaches or migraines. While only a tiny percentage of headaches are caused by cancer in the brain, talk with your doctor if you experience new or worsening headaches.

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