Early Detection of Lung Cancer

The deadliest cancer

Each year, more Americans die of lung cancer than of breast, colorectal, ovarian and prostate cancers combined. It is responsible for one out of every four cancer deaths in America.

More than 85% of lung cancers are related to tobacco, either by smoking or breathing secondhand smoke.

But about 18% of people who develop lung cancer have never smoked. As with many cancers, the cause is unknown.

Why is lung cancer so deadly?

One reason why lung cancer is so deadly is that it is hard to detect in its early stages. It may take years for lung cancer to grow, and there are usually no symptoms early on.

By the time there are symptoms, such as back pain or neurologic loss, the cancer has often spread to other parts of the body and now at an advanced stage.

Symptoms of lung cancer

Lung cancer symtoms often mimic other, less serious health issues in the beginning. It's symptoms can be mistaken as signs of smoking alone.

In general, the American Cancer Society lists these signs and symptoms of lung cancer:

  • a cough that does not go away or gets worse, or is accompanied by blood-colored sputum
  • chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing or laughing
  • respiratory infections that keep coming back, like bronchitis or pneumonia
  • hoarseness
  • weight loss and loss of appetite
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or weak

I have symptoms – what should I do?

If you have symptoms of lung cancer, talk to your primary care provider to initiate screening.

Continue on to learn more about lung cancer screening at EvergreenHealth