Signs and symptoms of lung cancer

The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:

  • a cough for three weeks or more
  • a change in a cough you’ve had for a long time
  • a chest infection that doesn’t get better, or repeated chest infections
  • feeling breathless and wheezy for no reason
  • coughing up blood
  • chest or shoulder pain that doesn’t get better
  • a hoarse voice for three weeks or more.

Other possible symptoms are:

  • losing weight for no obvious reason
  • feeling extremely tired (fatigue)
  • the ends of fingers change shape – they may become larger or rounded (clubbing).

If you have any of these symptoms, it‘s important to have them checked by your GP. Some of these symptoms can be caused by other conditions or by smoking. Lung cancer is occasionally diagnosed by chance when a person is having tests for another condition. In this situation, the cancer is more likely to be at an early stage.

Back to Understanding non-small cell lung cancer

The lungs

When we breathe the lungs take oxygen into the bloodstream and remove carbon dioxide.

Types of lung cancer

The main types of primary lung cancer are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. They are treated differently.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease of our cells. Sometimes cells go wrong and become abnormal. They keep dividing to make more abnormal cells which form a lump or tumour.

Why do cancers come back?

Sometimes, cancer cells are left behind after cancer treatment. Over time, these cells can form a new tumour and the cancer comes back.