Lung cancer can start in any part of the lungs or airways, and is more common as you get older. Cancer can spread into the lung from other parts of the body. This is called metastatic lung cancer. Currently, there is no national screening programme for lung cancer in the UK.
Cancer Research UK says that lung cancer does not always cause symptoms in its early stages.
Moreover, many of the signs and symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions.
The charity says that “finding lung cancer early can mean that it’s easier to treat”, so if you notice any symptoms or changes get them checked out by your GP as soon as possible.
The “most common” symptoms of lung cancer can display in a cough. This can include having a cough most of the time, or having a change in a cough you have had for a long time – “it may sound different or be painful when you cough”.
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You may also show coughing up phlegm with blood in it, or chest infections that keep coming back or a chest infection that doesn’t get better.
“A cough is also a symptom of coronavirus. It is still important to contact your GP if you have a new or worsening cough. They can speak to you over the phone or by a video call and arrange for tests if you need them,” states the charity.
The charity notes that there are several other signs. This includes getting out of breath doing the things you used to do without a problem, having an ache or pain in the chest or shoulder, losing your appetite, feeling tired all the time and losing weight.
It adds: “If you notice any possible cancer symptoms or any changes that are unusual for you, contact your doctor because early cancer diagnosis saves lives.”
The NHS has outlined some less common symptoms of lung cancer, which some people may not be aware of.
These actually include changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their ends becoming larger. This is known as finger clubbing.
Some people may also notice swelling of their face or neck, or persistent chest or shoulder pain.
Around 45 out of 100 people diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK are aged 75 and older, according to Cancer Research UK.
Your risk of lung cancer is higher if you have a close relative (such as a parent or sibling) who has had lung cancer.
Exposure to certain chemicals and substances which are used in several occupations and industries may increase your risk of developing lung cancer.
Previous lung diseases can increase your risk of lung cancer. These risks are usually higher in smokers.
Once tests have been completed, it should be possible for doctors to know what stage your cancer is, what this means for your treatment and whether it’s possible to completely cure the cancer.