The type of lung cancer a person has – small cell lung cancer or non-small cell lung cancer – does not necessarily determine what symptoms they have. Rather, it is the stage of the lung cancer that dictates the kind of symptoms that a person has. However, some types of lung cancer are faster growing and more likely to spread than others. For example, large cell carcinomas (a subtype of non-small cell lung cancer) and all small cell lung cancers tend to grow quickly, making them more likely to spread and cause more severe symptoms.
Initial symptoms of lung cancer
Patients with early stages of lung cancer will likely experience symptoms related to the respiratory system, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Hoarseness or wheezing
- A chronic cough
- Coughing up blood or abnormally-colored mucus
- Repeated cases of bronchitis or pneumonia
- Pain in the chest, back or shoulders
Symptoms of lung cancer that has spread
Lung cancer that has metastasized (spread) to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body may cause additional symptoms beyond those mentioned above. Symptoms of advanced lung cancer can include:
- Unintended weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme fatigue
- Memory loss and other neurological symptoms
When should I seek screening and diagnostic services for lung cancer?
If you are showing symptoms of lung cancer, you are encouraged to contact your physician. Additionally, our Lung Cancer Alliance Screening Center of Excellence offers screening tests for those patients who are considered high risk. If cancer is found, you will have direct access to the specialists in our Thoracic Oncology Program. These experts will ensure you receive a treatment plan that is individualized to meet your unique needs. Our high-volume cancer center regularly diagnoses and treats patients with all types of lung cancer, and our level of experience results in better outcomes and an improved quality of life for our patients.