Lung Cancer: Symptoms


Common symptoms of lung cancer can include:

  • Fatigue (Tiredness) 
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain, if a tumor invades a structure within the chest or involves the lining of the lung
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing up phlegm or mucus
  • Coughing up blood, called hemoptysis

Although lung cancer can metastasize, or spread, anywhere in the body, the most common sites are the lymph nodes, lungs, bones, brain, liver and structures near the kidneys called the adrenal glands. Metastases, or the spread of the lung cancer to more than one area, can cause further breathing difficulties, bone pain, abdominal or back pain, headache, weakness, seizures and/or speech difficulties. Rarely, lung tumors can release hormones that result in chemical imbalances, such as low blood sodium levels or high blood calcium.

Symptoms such as fatigue, malaise (a feeling of being out-of-sorts or generally unwell) and loss of appetite are not necessarily due to metastases. The presence of cancer anywhere in the body can cause a person to feel unwell in a general way. Loss of appetite can result in weight loss. Fatigue and weakness can further worsen breathing difficulties.

However, these general symptoms may also be signs of more common, less severe conditions.