70 North Country Road, Suite 205
Port Jefferson, NY 11777
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Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer typically doesn't cause signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically occur only when the disease is advanced.

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • A new cough that doesn't go away
  • Changes in a chronic cough or "smoker's cough"
  • Coughing up blood, even a small amount
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Bone pain
  • Headache

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.

If you smoke and have been unable to quit, make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can recommend strategies for quitting smoking, such as counseling, medications and nicotine replacement products.

Causes
Smoking causes the majority of lung cancers — both in smokers and in people exposed to secondhand smoke. But lung cancer also occurs in people who never smoked and in those who never had prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. In these cases, there may be no clear cause of lung cancer.

How smoking causes lung cancer

Doctors believe smoking causes lung cancer by damaging the cells that line the lungs. When you inhale cigarette smoke, which is full of cancer-causing substances (carcinogens), changes in the lung tissue begin almost immediately.

At first your body may be able to repair this damage. But with each repeated exposure, normal cells that line your lungs are increasingly damaged. Over time, the damage causes cells to act abnormally and eventually cancer may develop.

Types of lung cancer

Doctors divide lung cancer into two major types based on the appearance of lung cancer cells under the microscope. Your doctor makes treatment decisions based on which major type of lung cancer you have. The two general types of lung cancer include:

  • Small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer occurs almost exclusively in heavy smokers and is less common than non-small cell lung cancer.
  • Non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is an umbrella term for several types of lung cancers that behave in a similar way. Non-small cell lung cancers include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.

Risk factors

A number of factors may increase your risk of lung cancer. Some risk factors can be controlled, for instance, by quitting smoking. And other factors can't be controlled, such as your family history.

Risk factors for lung cancer include:

  • Smoking. Your risk of lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke each day and the number of years you have smoked. Quitting at any age can significantly lower your risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke. Even if you don't smoke, your risk of lung cancer increases if you're exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Exposure to radon gas. Radon is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water that eventually becomes part of the air you breathe. Unsafe levels of radon can accumulate in any building, including homes.
  • Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens. Workplace exposure to asbestos and other substances known to cause cancer — such as arsenic, chromium and nickel — also can increase your risk of developing lung cancer, especially if you're a smoker.
    Family history of lung cancer. People with a parent, sibling or child with lung cancer have an increased risk of the disease.

Stages of lung cancer

  • Stage I. Cancer is limited to the lung and hasn't spread to the lymph nodes. The tumor is generally smaller than 2 inches (5 centimeters) across.
  • Stage II. The tumor at this stage may have grown larger than 2 inches, or it may be a smaller tumor that involves nearby structures, such as the chest wall, the diaphragm or the lining around the lungs (pleura). Cancer may also have spread to the nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage III. The tumor at this stage may have grown very large and invaded other organs near the lungs. Or this stage may indicate a smaller tumor accompanied by cancer cells in lymph nodes farther away from the lungs.
  • Stage IV. Cancer has spread beyond the affected lung to the other lung or to distant areas of the body.

Small cell lung cancer is sometimes described as being limited or extensive. Limited indicates cancer is limited to one lung. Extensive indicates cancer has spread beyond the one lung.

You and your doctor choose a cancer treatment plan based on a number of factors, such as your overall health, the type and stage of your cancer, and your preferences. Options typically include one or more treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or targeted drug therapy.

Featured Provider

FProv_0901_2017_Lu Mather Primary Care in Port Jefferson, NY is pleased to welcome Zhongju Lu MD, PhD to the Internal Medicine staff.

Featured Location

FLoc_010117_MPC_PJ
Mather Primary Care at Port Jefferson
Harbor View Medical Services, PC
125 Oakland Avenue, Suite 204
Port Jefferson, NY 11777
Phone: (631) 686-1414

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