Dyspnoea is ‘key’ symptom of lung cancer – seen in 70% of cases

Lung cancer: Signs and symptoms to look out for

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Time is the key determining factor in cancer prognosis. Worryingly, leaving the condition progressing to later stages could mean the difference between life and death. This makes knowing symptoms front and centre. Fortunately, an expert has shared the “key” warning signs of lung cancer to spot.

While a stubborn cough is a famous symptom of lung cancer, other signs could also be crucial for detecting the condition promptly.

According to Medical Negligence Solicitor Kim Jackson, from Patient Claim Line, one “key red flag” sign of cancer is dyspnoea.

Dyspnoea, or shortness of breath, describes an intense tightening of your chest and difficulty breathing.

This red flag symptom can come on suddenly and make you feel like you’re suffocating.

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Dyspnoea might strike during physical activity but it may also come on even while you’re resting.

What’s more, breathlessness targets around 60 to 70 percent of patients with this condition, according to research, published in the British Medical Journal.

The study looked at 22 patients with lung cancer who struggled mainly with symptoms like dyspnoea, cough, fatigue, loss of appetite and chest pain.

Macmillan Cancer Support recommends contacting your doctor “immediately” if your breathlessness gets worse quickly or you feel pain when you breathe.

“If you cannot speak to your doctor and your breathlessness continues to get worse, go straight to your nearest A&E,” the charity adds.

Apart from this scary sign in your chest, lung cancer can also present with many other “red flag” symptoms.

Jackson said: “Red flag symptoms include a persistent cough that can deteriorate, coughing up blood and chest pain that is worse with deep breathing, coughing or laughing.” 

“A loss of appetite, weight loss that cannot be explained and fatigue are also key signs of lung cancer.

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“Watch out for hoarseness, breathlessness, a new onset of wheezing and infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that are persistent.” 

What’s worse, the NHS explains that lung cancer doesn’t usually spur on many signs or symptoms in the early stages.

The health service states: “This means the outlook for the condition is not as good as many other types of cancer.”

However, it’s still important to get any worrying symptoms in this area checked.

Jackson said: “If you visit your GP with symptoms suggestive of lung cancer, a GP should examine you and ask you to breathe into a device called a spirometer, which measures how much air you breathe in and out. 

“A blood test might be requested to rule out some of the possible causes of your symptoms. 

“The main test to diagnose lung cancer is a chest X-ray. A CT scan will also be advised as well as a PET-CT scan.”

Once you’re diagnosed with lung cancer, your exact treatment will depend on the type of mutation the cancer has, how far it’s spread and your general health.

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