Lung cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms in the early stages. Even when symptoms do appear, they don’t always include a cough.
A tumor in your lung can cause irritation or fluid buildup in your airways that triggers a cough reflex. It can also make you more prone to respiratory infections that may lead to a cough.
Read on to learn more about the connection between lung cancer and coughing.
What does a lung cancer cough feel like?
Lung cancer often causes a lingering cough that gets worse in the absence of other flu-like symptoms like a runny nose or sore throat.
A lung cancer cough may:
- interfere with your sleep
- lead to coughing up blood
- cause chest pain
The only way to know for sure if lung cancer is causing your cough is to visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Lung cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms until the tumor grows large enough to cause problems. People usually don’t seek medical care until they experience
Lung cancer symptoms are general and can mimic those of other conditions.
- lingering cough
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- coughing up blood
- unintentional weight loss
- repeated pneumonia
- swollen or enlarged lymph nodes
Advanced stages of lung cancer more likely to cause symptoms
Lung cancer becomes more likely to cause symptoms as your cancer becomes more advanced.
Chronic cough was the most commonly reported symptom, followed by coughing up blood, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Study participants were more likely to experience these symptoms based on how advanced their cancer was.
Smoking tobacco is by far the top risk factor for developing and dying from lung cancer. About
SCLC is less common than NSCLC and generally has a poorer outlook. SCLC is very rare in people who’ve never smoked.
- secondhand smoke exposure
- radon exposure
- asbestos exposure
- workplace exposure to airborne chemicals like:
- uranium and other radioactive substances
- diesel exhaust
- arsenic, in the air or drinking water
- vinyl chloride
- coal products
- mustard gas
- beta carotene supplements in people who smoke
- previous radiation therapy
It’s a good idea to see your doctor anytime you have a lingering cough or other potential symptoms of lung cancer, especially if you’re at increased risk of lung cancer.
People at high risk of lung cancer include:
- people over the
age of 65
- current and former smokers
- people with a family history of lung cancer
A cough is among the most common symptoms of lung cancer. But many people with lung cancer never develop a cough, and symptoms often don’t appear in the early stages.
Research suggests that you become more likely to develop a cough the further your cancer progresses. It’s a good idea to visit your doctor for a diagnosis any time you develop a lingering cough with no obvious cause.