Lung cancer cases are shooting up around the world due to smoking and worsening air pollution. The situation is no different in India too and lung cancer patients currently constitute 6.9 per cent of the total cancer cases.
Even though early detection and treatment of cancer would help reduce mortality, lung cancer is difficult to diagnose during the initial stages. In a large number of patients, the symptoms could be noticed only after the cancer has spread to a major part of the lung. Moreover, the early symptoms could be wrongly diagnosed as some other disease and treatment of cancer may not take place initially.
Cough is an early sign
According to doctors, a cough can reveal many facts about the health of our lungs and the nature of cough of a person suffering from lung cancer would be different. A cough is the normal first response of the body to an obstruction in the windpipe caused by microbes or other harmful objects trapped there.
If the reason for the cough is not serious, the problem would subside within a few days. But a cough that persists for several weeks or even months could indicate lung cancer.
Apart from cough, the following are the other signs of lung cancer:
Colour of blood or corroded iron in the sputum.
Regular occurrence of infectious conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Pain while coughing
Another symptom of lung cancer is the change in the sound and nature of the cough as it lasts several weeks. This change could be a pointer to the growing cancerous cells in the lungs. The patients may also experience pain while coughing and speaking.
A person affected by lung cancer may display signs unrelated to cough also. Such symptoms could be different for each patient. Congestion in the throat, lack of appetite, unexplained loss of weight, fatigue and puffiness of face or neck are among them. In some rare cases, bending or clubbing of fingers is seen. Pain on the shoulders is yet another symptom of lung cancer.
When to seek treatment
Consult a doctor when the cough lasts for more than four weeks and its sound changes. Never ignore a cough as it could be a symptom of a host of diseases.
According to medical professionals, smokers are at the highest risk for lung cancer and should take special note of the early signs of the disease.