Lung cancer symptoms: Five surprising signs of the life-threatening disease

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Notoriously associated with smoking, and second-hand smoke, many people may unwittingly be affected by lung cancer. Signs of the disease may not be as easy to spot as you’d think, especially as there are only a few nerve endings in the affected organ.

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is a leading UK charity that has funnelled millions of pounds into lung cancer research.

To raise awareness, the organisation has highlighted the not-so-known warning signs of the disease.

Firstly, “finger clubbing” – whereby the fingertips enlarge and “become more curved” – is highly linked to lung cancer.

“[Finger] clubbing often occurs in heart and lung diseases that reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood,” explained the charity.

Secondly, the fingertips may not be the only area of the body to become swollen.

A swollen face can occur due to a “superior vena cava obstruction”, which may be caused by lung cancer.

What’s the superior vena cava?

The charity elaborated: “The superior vena cava is a large vein in the chest.

“It carries blood from the upper half of the body into the heart. A superior vena cava obstruction occurs when something stops the blood [from] flowing.”

That “something” tends to be lung cancer, which may be “pressing on the vein”.

Either that, or the cancer may have “spread to the lymph nodes nearby” – both of which can lead to a swollen face.

Thirdly, backache or shoulder pain may also be alerting you to the deadly disease.

Too easily overlooked, the shocking truth of the matter is that lung cancer can cause pain in the back or shoulder (and not the chest).

However if lung cancer is suspected, a chest X-ray is still done to identify any tumours.

Fourthly, unexplained weight loss of “10lbs or more” may be “the first sign of cancer”.

This means dropping off pounds without an increase in exercise or a regimented diet, or excessive levels of stress.

Unexplained weight loss tends to occur with lung, pancreas, stomach, and esophagus cancer.

Some people with lung cancer “may have difficulty in chewing or swallowing” food.

Consequently, this can lead to a reduction in food intake and can contribute to weight loss.

Moreover, a person with lung cancer may feel nauseous and may not have too big of an appetite.

“Cancer cells also use a disproportionate amount of the body’s energy supply,” added the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

“[And they] often release substances that alter the way the body processes food energy.”

These are two factors that play a part in a person’s dramatic weight loss.

The final warning sign of lung cancer is “repeated chest infections”; if you see any of these symptoms, do alert your GP.

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