New symptoms can sometimes develop during your illness, such as breathlessness or a cough. These may be caused by the growth or spread of the lung cancer to other parts of the body, but they may also have another cause. For example, some lung cancer cells produce hormones that can upset the body’s chemical balance. If you have any new symptoms, tell your doctor straight away so that you can be treated.
Breathlessness can be a distressing symptom to deal with for many people with lung cancer. There are treatments and exercises that can help to relieve or manage your breathlessness, and things you can do to make living with breathlessness easier. These include different drugs, complementary therapies, and breathing and relaxation techniques.
We have more information about managing breathlessness. We have a CD called Relax and breathe, which will help you learn ways to manage your breathlessness. Call our cancer support specialists for more information or order it free from our website be.Macmillan
About 80% of patients with lung cancer (8 in 10) have a cough, and there are treatments to help ease this. These can include external beam radiotherapy, palliative chemotherapy or pain-relief medications.
Occasionally, cancer in the lung can cause fluid to build up between the layers that cover the lung (pleural effusion). Your doctor can usually drain the fluid by inserting a needle (cannula) into the area. The needle is attached to a tube and the fluid passes into a drainage bag or bottle. Sometimes, it’s possible to seal the two layers of the pleura together again using drugs, or sometimes talc. This is known as pleurodesis.
We have more information about pleural effusion.
Some people with lung cancer experience pain. This can usually be controlled with painkillers and other methods of pain control. People may also have pain if the cancer has spread to the bones. There are different medications, such as bisphosphonates, that might help with the pain or your doctor may recommend a short course of radiotherapy.
We have more information about managing pain.