Up to one-fourth of all people with lung cancer may have no symptoms when the cancer is diagnosed. These cancers usually are identified incidentally when a chest X-ray is performed for another reason. The majority of people, however, develop symptoms. The symptoms are due to direct effects of the primary tumor, to effects of metastatic tumors in other parts of the body, or to disturbances of hormones, blood, or other systems caused by the cancer.
Symptoms of primary lung cancers include cough, coughing up blood, chest pain, and shortness of breath. * A new cough in a smoker or a former smoker should raise concern for lung cancer. * A cough that does not go away or gets worse over time should be evaluated by a health-care provider. * Coughing up blood (hemoptysis) occurs in a significant number of people who have lung cancer. Any amount of coughed-up blood is cause for concern. * Chest pain is a symptom in about one-fourth of people with lung cancer. The pain is dull, aching, and persistent. * Shortness of breath usually results from a blockage to the flow of air in part of the lung, collection of fluid around the lung (pleural effusion), or the spread of tumor throughout the lungs. * Wheezing or hoarseness may signal blockage or inflammation in the lungs that may go along with cancer. * Repeated respiratory infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, can be a sign of lung cancer.
Symptoms of metastatic lung tumors depend on the location and size. About 30%-40% of people with lung cancer have some symptoms or signs of metastatic disease. * Lung cancer most often spreads to the liver, the adrenal glands, the bones, and the brain. * Metastatic lung cancer in the liver usually does not cause symptoms, at least up to the time of diagnosis. * Metastatic lung cancer in the adrenal glands