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Recognising the signs and symptoms of lung cancer

June 2014 By Nicky Whiting

Much has been made recently of the lack of awareness when it comes to lung cancer symptoms, particularly in Wales. But are people across the UK missing the vital knowledge of this deadly disease when potential symptoms show?

Currently, the UK Lung Cancer Coalition is calling for more to be done to warn people about the symptoms of the disease.

The poor survival rate could be improved with earlier detection. Wales scored particularly badly in terms of European country survival rates, at 28th out of 29.

What are the signs and symptoms of lung cancer?

The charity the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation says "Don’t delay in visiting a GP. If it is lung cancer, early diagnosis and treatment could save your life".

  • A persistent cough that lasts more than 3 weeks or progressively gets worse.
  • Unexplained breathlessness
  • Chest infections
  • Coughing up blood
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chest/shoulder pains
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Hoarse voice

Cancer Research UK has information about paraneoplastic symptoms or paraneoplastic syndrome. This is when other types of lung cancer cells produce hormones that get in to the bloodstream, and can cause symptoms that do not seem related to lung cancer. These symptoms can include pins and needles or numbness in fingers and toes, drowsiness and confusion, breast swelling in men or thrombosis.

A pancoast tumour is a very specific type of lung cancer, that grows right at the top of the lung, causing very specific symptoms. Pancoast tumours can also cause a collection of symptoms Horner’s syndrome which causes dropping of one eyelid, a small pupil in that same eye and sweating.

Troels Jordansen of LungHealth UK has some advice about all cancers. "Making some simple changes to your lifestyle can significantly reduce everyones risk of developing cancers. Keeping a healthy body weight and leading an active lifestyle, combined with a healthy diet and practicing safe sun care are all key ways to help prevent contracting cancer. In terms of lung cancer, not smoking is perhaps the most important!".

Tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world today, causing 80-90% of all lung cancer deaths.

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  • A new and unique blood test, which is more accurate than CT scanning and seven times more likely to correctly identify lung cancer
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