Lung cancer: Signs and symptoms to look out for
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Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in England, and like other cancers, finding it early can make it more treatable. A persistent cough is one of the main symptoms of coronavirus, but it’s also one of the warning signs of lung cancer.
After an almost 30 percent drop in lung cancer referrals compared to this time last year, the NHS is now urging the public to come forward if they experience lung cancer symptoms.
Research commissioned by the NHS found half the people in South East England do not know a persistent cough for more than three weeks can be a lung cancer symptoms.
Michael Baker, deputy director of healthcare at Public Health England South East, released a statement: “It’s too easy to ignore important signs your body is trying to tell you but it’s so important with cancer that it is treated as early as possible.
“If you are in any doubt at all, please consult your GP. Don’t wait until it’s too late.”
Thos whose cancer is caught at the earliest point, referred to a stage one, have a 57.7 percent chance of living for another five years, compared to 3.1 percent for those diagnosed at stage four.
Recognising other symptoms of lung cancer may help with diagnosis.
Alongside a cough that doesn’t go away after two to three weeks, the NHS advises looking out for the following:
- a long-standing cough that gets worse
- chest infections that keep coming back
- coughing up blood
- an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
- persistent breathlessness
- persistent tiredness or lack of energy
- loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
Less common symptoms of lung cancer include:
- changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their ends becoming larger (this is known as finger clubbing)
- difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or pain when swallowing
- a hoarse voice
- swelling of your face or neck
- persistent chest or shoulder pain
While lung cancer is being highlighted at this time, it’s important to recognise symptoms of all types of cancer.
There are some more general symptoms to look out for, such as changes in bowel habits.
Changes in bowel habits includes blood in your poo, diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason, a feeling of not having fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet, and pain in your stomach or back passage (anus).
These symptoms can be signs of bowel cancer.
Bloating for three weeks or more, unexplained weight loss and unexplained bleeding can also indicate cancer.
Although these symptoms are unlikely to be cancer, it’s important to speak to a GP so they can investigate.
In the US, a breast imaging organisation is recommending women wait to schedule a mammogram until four weeks after their COVID-19 vaccine after concerns over a vaccine side effect.
The Society of Breast Imaging warned women who were recently vaccinated could have swelling and a lump in the lymph nodes of their armpit, which can be mistaken as a sign of breast cancer.
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