For example, the chance that a symptom is caused in a 25-year old woman who never smoked is very small. By contrast, the same early symptoms of lung cancer in a 65-year-old woman who has smoked two packs of cigarettes per day over the past forty years is likely the result of lung cancer until proven otherwise.
The symptoms of lung cancer may be divided into three main groups. The first group is caused by cancer growing in the lungs. The second group arises when lung cancer grows outside of the lung into nearby parts of the chest. The third group indicates that the cancer has spread beyond the chest and into other parts of the body, a condition known as metastasis.
Early Symptoms Of Lung Cancer
The first symptom is persistent coughing. Lung cancers arise from the cells lining the airways. The nerves lining the airways detect the presence of anything foreign - dust, dirt, blood, or tumor. These nerves stimulate the cough reflex, designed to help the body rid itself of particles and keep the airways clean. If a tumor develops in the large airways, cough may be a prominent symptom. Cough is present in anywhere from 20 to 80 percent of cases diagnosed. Patients with lung cancer who never complain of cough probably have tumors located away from the center of the lung, in the smaller airways, where cough receptors are few.
The second and third early symptoms of lung cancer are coughing up blood and wheezing. If the surface of a tumor bleeds, the patient may cough up blood-tinged mucous. These serious symptoms should be evaluated immediately. Also, a tumor may result in wheezing, the sound produced when air tries to pass through a partially blocked airway in the lung. Remember, a tumor will produce localized wheezing best heard on the side of the chest where the tumor is located.
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