Lung Cancer

Lung cancer symptoms may include a cough, chest pain (that feels like a constant ache that may or may not be related to coughing), shortness of breath, repeated bouts of pneumonia or bronchitis, coughing up blood, hoarseness or swelling of the neck and face. It's important to see a doctor if any of these symptoms lasts as long as two weeks.

Risk Factors

  • Cigarettes — Smoking causes lung cancer.
  • Cigars and Pipes — Non-cigarette smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer than nonsmokers.
  • Environmental Tobacco Smoke — The chance of developing lung cancer is increased by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (the smoke in the air when someone else smokes). Radon and asbestos exposure can also cause lung damage and lung cancer.
  • Lung Diseases — Tuberculosis and other lung diseases can increase a person's chance of developing lung cancer.
  • Personal History — A person who has had lung cancer once is more likely to develop lung cancer a second time.
  • Pollution — Researchers have found a link between lung cancer and exposure to certain pollutants.


  • Constant chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Persistent cough that worsens
  • Repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Shortness of breath (wheezing or hoarseness)
  • Swelling of neck and face


The doctor will conduct a thorough physical exam and may use one or more of the following procedures to obtain tissue to determine whether a person has lung cancer:

  • Bronchoscopy — The doctor puts a thin, lighted tube into the mouth or nose and down through the windpipe to look into the breathing passages and collect cells or small tissue samples.
  • Needle Aspiration — A thin needle is inserted through the chest into the tumor to remove a sample of tissue.
  • Thoracentesis — The doctor uses a needle to remove a sample of the fluid that surrounds the lungs to check for cancer cells.
  • Thoracotomy — Surgery to open the chest is sometimes needed to diagnose lung cancer.

Source: National Cancer Institute