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Spotting the Warning Signs of Lung Cancer

Spotting the Warning Signs of Lung Cancer

It’s hard to believe, but every two minutes, an American adult is diagnosed with lung cancer. Unfortunately, this deadly disease doesn’t usually cause noticeable symptoms until the disease has progressed. 

Understanding and recognizing the warning signs of lung cancer can mean getting diagnosed earlier, making treatment more effective — especially if you have a higher risk for the disease. At The Beverly Hills Lung and Sleep Institute, our board-certified lung specialists are committed to offering the best in lung cancer care to our patients in the Los Angeles, California, area.

Our providers also know early detection plays a key role in overcoming lung cancer and surviving this serious condition. As part of our comprehensive pulmonary care services, we specialize in screening for and diagnosing lung cancer.

To promote early detection, our team created this informative guide with details about lung cancer and the warning signs of this disease.

Understanding lung cancer

The center of your respiratory system is your lungs, which breathe in oxygen to support bodily functions and breathe out toxic carbon dioxide. When abnormal cells overtake healthy lung cells, you develop lung cancer. 

Abnormal cells typically start with a DNA mutation, which can be triggered by different factors that elevate your risk of lung cancer, including:

Since these abnormal cells don’t function like normal lung cells, they make it difficult for your lungs to function properly as they grow. It can take time for symptoms related to this lack of function to appear while the cancer spreads.

Different types of lung cancer exist. The two main types are small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). SCLC is almost always linked to a history of cigarette or tobacco use, while NSCLC is more common yet spreads and grows more slowly. 

Warning signs of lung cancer

Some people experience early signs of lung cancer depending on the affected part(s) of the lung(s). Most often, these early growths might trigger a dry but persistent cough or some shortness of breath. 

Never hesitate to talk to your provider at The Beverly Hills Lung and Sleep Institute since early detection greatly increases your chance of successful treatment. 

For most people, however, lung cancer doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms right away. Instead, symptoms develop as the cancer grows. Or the signs of lung cancer might start as mild, then get more intense and severe. 

Common warning signs of lung cancer include:

As lung cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it can trigger other symptoms, like bone pain, nervous system symptoms (e.g., headaches; balance issues; tingling; numbness), yellowing skin (jaundice), and swollen or sore lymph nodes.

Diagnosing lung cancer

Lung cancer diagnosis begins with a screening, typically using chest X-rays and other imaging tests. Your provider at The Beverly Hills Lung and Sleep Institute also performs a physical assessment and reviews your symptoms, if any. They may conduct a pulmonary function test. 

If your provider notices anything concerning that may point to lung cancer, like a mass, shadow, or spot, they order additional imaging and testing, which may include a biopsy, to provide a specific and accurate diagnosis. 

Set up a lung cancer screening by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone with a provider at The Beverly Hills Lung and Sleep Institute today. 

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