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Sure Signs You Have Lung Cancer, Says CDC

Knowing the signs can help you get care sooner.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

When Dustin Diamond died of lung cancer at age 44, it was shock—because he was so young, but also because it happened so fast. "Different people have different symptoms for lung cancer," says the CDC. "Some people have symptoms related to the lungs. Some people whose lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasized) have symptoms specific to that part of the body. Some people just have general symptoms of not feeling well. Most people with lung cancer don't have symptoms until the cancer is advanced. Lung cancer symptoms may include" the following. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.


You May Have Coughing That Gets Worse or Doesn't Go Away

Man sneezing into his elbow.

"Anyone who has a cough with the following symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible:

  • blood or rust colored mucus or phlegm
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia that recur or do not go away

A cough that occurs with lung cancer can be either dry or wet. It can occur at any time, and it can interfere with sleep at night," reports Medical News Today. "Most people who develop lung cancer have a history of smoking. Smoking can also irritate the lungs and cause a short term cough."


You May Have Chest Pain

Woman having chest pain and coughing while lying down on sofa at home.

You may have "chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing," says the American Cancer Society.


You May Have Shortness of Breath

Woman suffering an anxiety attack alone in the night

"Dyspnea is the medical word for difficulty breathing. It's a common symptom in people who have lung cancer or have cancer that has spread to the lungs. Dyspnea happens when you have trouble moving air in and out of your lungs. You can also have dyspnea if your lungs aren't getting enough oxygen," reports the University of Rochester Medical Center. "People who have dyspnea describe it as difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath. They often compare it to feeling like they are suffocating or being smothered. In many cases, you may feel anxious or panic if you think you can't breathe. Often your anxiety and fears can make the dyspnea worse. By panicking, you can become more breathless and begin a cycle that is hard to stop."


You May Have Wheezing

Woman removing face mask from her face outdoors.

"Inflammation and narrowing of the airway in any location, from your throat out into your lungs, can result in wheezing," says the Mayo Clinic. "The most common causes of recurrent wheezing are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which both cause narrowing and spasms (bronchospasms) in the small airways of your lungs." Lung cancer can also be a cause.


You May Cough Up Blood

Young woman feeling sick and sneezing in a tissue at home.

The medical term for coughing up blood "is hemoptysis, the presence of blood in the sputum (spit or phlegm) coughed up from the lungs. It is estimated that 7-10 percent of lung cancer patients present (when seen by a medical professional) with hemoptysis and approximately 20 percent experience it through the course of their illness. Lung cancers account for 23 percent of hemoptysis in the United States," according to


You May Feel Tired All the Time


"Fatigue is the most frequently reported symptom in lung cancer patients throughout the entire course of disease, and all international guidelines recommend early screening for cancer-related fatigue (CRF) and symptoms that can affect patients' quality of life," says a study in Dove Press. "In patients with lung cancer, fatigue belongs to the symptom cluster of pain, depression, and insomnia, which are commonly observed simultaneously, but are typically treated as separate although they may have common biological mechanisms."


You May Have Weight Loss With No Known Cause

woman stepping on scale in pink flats

"In patients with lung cancer and mesothelioma, weight loss is common at presentation and a frequent cause of patient concern," reports the British Journal of Cancer. "Weight loss is the result of an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure."

RELATED: Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers


You May Also Have These Symptoms

Portrait of adult female doctor sitting at desk in office clinic

"Other changes that can sometimes occur with lung cancer may include repeated bouts of pneumonia and swollen or enlarged lymph nodes (glands) inside the chest in the area between the lungs," says the CDC. "These symptoms can happen with other illnesses, too. If you have some of these symptoms, talk to your doctor, who can help find the cause." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek
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