The most common symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Cough that lasts for several weeks
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored spit or phlegm
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Hoarseness
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Wheezing when you hadn’t before

If you experience shortness of breath or other symptoms, we recommend you contact a doctor immediately.

People often confuse asthma symptoms with lung cancer symptoms. If you use your asthma inhaler and don’t feel relief within 40 minutes, you should see a doctor for a complete evaluation.

Even if you don’t have symptoms, but are between the ages of 55-80 years and have a smoking history of 30-pack years and are still smoking or have quit within the last 15 years, lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (CT) is recommended.

Men vs. Women

Both men and women can experience any of the symptoms listed above. Men might be more likely to have a cough, to bring up blood, and to have respiratory infections that don’t go away. For women, the first signs of lung cancer are more often shortness of breath and fatigue. 

Pain Symptoms

In addition to the symptoms listed above, some people with more unusual types of cancer may experience certain types of pain:

  • Pain in the shoulder blade, upper back, and arms: This can be caused by a Pancoast tumor. The tumor grows in the upper part of the lung and spreads to the ribs, spine, nerves, and blood vessels.
  • Headaches: Tumors that are in a certain spot can make it hard for blood to flow normally. This can cause severe headaches.