When people think of cancer, they often first wonder about the symptoms. Symptoms can be the first signs of concern, and can motivate people to see their doctor and undergo testing. Lung cancer symptoms are signs of a potentially deadly disease and deserve attention when they occur.
The symptoms of lung cancer are the same regardless of the cause. This means asbestos lung cancer symptoms are the same as lung cancer symptoms caused by smoking. Millions of Americans were exposed to asbestos during the 20th century, leading to diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer. Even today, close to 10,000 people are diagnosed with asbestos lung cancer each year.
You should know the symptoms of lung cancer to react appropriately if you experience any. Even before experiencing symptoms, you can get screened for lung cancer. You should consider screenings if you have a history of asbestos exposure or a history of smoking.
The main symptoms of lung cancer are:
- Persistent coughing
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain from breathing, laughing or coughing
- Persistent fatigue or exhaustion
- Unexplained weight loss
- Recurrent episodes of pneumonia
- Swollen glands in the chest
All of these symptoms could be indicative of a tumor in or on the lung tissue affecting the respiratory system. Lung cancer can spread to other areas of the body beyond the respiratory system. Signs of lung cancer metastasis are:
- Back pain
- Headaches, dizziness, balance issues, seizures and other central nervous system problems
- Swelling of lymph nodes in areas other than the chest
There are definable symptoms for each of the four lung cancer stages. Here is a breakdown of what you may experience in each stage, starting with stage 1 and ending with stage 4.
Stage 1 Lung Cancer Symptoms
The first stage of lung cancer is stage 1. The tumor is on or inside the lungs. There aren’t many stage 1 lung cancer symptoms because the tumor is so small and the impact on the body is limited. Some people don’t experience any symptoms.
Stage 1 lung cancer symptoms affect the respiratory system:
- Mild shortness of breath
- New onset of a persistent, unexplained cough
- Blood tinged sputum
Even if you have stage 1 lung cancer symptoms, it doesn’t mean you definitely have lung cancer. A few other health issues can cause these symptoms. If these symptoms persist for a few weeks, you should contact a medical expert. Your doctor will evaluate your specific symptoms and provide the most appropriate testing to determine the causes.
Stage 1 is split into two stages: 1A and 1B. These two substages do not differ in symptoms.
Stage 2 Lung Cancer Symptoms
Stage 2 lung cancer is when most people begin experiencing symptoms. The tumor is large enough to affect the expansion of the lungs against the chest and disrupt respiratory functioning.
The most common stage 2 lung cancer symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough
- Coughing up blood
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Chest pain from laughing
Stage 2 lung cancer is split into 2A and 2B. The symptoms don’t differ much between these substages.
Stage 3 Lung Cancer Symptoms
Stage 3 lung cancer is the first advanced stage. The tumor is growing and spreading. Cells may have reached nearby lymph nodes or the lining around the lungs (pleura). There is also potential spread to other areas, such as the esophagus or heart.
Stage 3 lung cancer symptoms may include:
- Trouble breathing
- Often feeling winded and short of breath
- Wheezing sound when breathing
- Pain in the chest
- Hoarseness and lower volume of voice
- Weight loss
- Back pain (if cancer spread to spine)
- Headaches (if cancer spread to brain)
Stage 3 is split into 3A, 3B and 3C. The symptoms differ for each substage. Stage 3A lung cancer is limited to just one side of the body. A symptom would be chest pain on one side. Stage 3B is spread to the other side of the chest. Stage 3C has spread throughout the chest. A sign of stage 3C is small tumors in the sac around the heart.
Stage 4 Lung Cancer Symptoms
Stage 4 lung cancer is the most advanced form. The tumor has spread far beyond the lungs. Cancer has metastasized to other areas of the body, such as the brain, spinal cord and more.
There are a lot of stage 4 lung cancer symptoms, and they are more severe than in other stages. For instance, chest pain is greater in stage 4 than stage 2. Trouble breathing and loss of breath also occurs more often in stage 4 lung cancer. Coughing and hoarseness also are stage 4 lung cancer symptoms, and they’ll be more noticeable and consistent than in earlier stages.
Other possible stage 4 lung cancer symptoms are:
- Jaundice (yellow skin)
- Bone pain
- Swollen lymph nodes around neck or collarbone
- Balance issues
- Muscle weakness
- Numb feelings
Frequently Asked Questions About Asbestos Lung Cancer Symptoms
What is usually the first sign of lung cancer?The first sign of lung cancer can vary, but common symptoms include a persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss. However, it's important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it's best to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
What are the last stages of asbestosis?The last stages of asbestosis may include severe respiratory distress, cardiac failure, and death. These symptoms can occur many years after initial exposure to asbestos. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing respiratory problems.
What are the symptoms of lung cancer?Symptoms of lung cancer can include persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, hoarseness, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and coughing up blood. It's important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so if you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
What are the signs and symptoms of asbestos exposure?The signs and symptoms of asbestos exposure may not appear until decades after exposure. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent cough, fatigue, and weight loss. In some cases, individuals may also experience a buildup of fluid in the lungs or abdomen. It is important to seek medical attention if you have any concerns about potential asbestos exposure.
What does stage 3a lung cancer mean?Stage 3a lung cancer refers to a cancer that has spread to nearby lymph nodes and possibly other tissues or organs in the chest. It is considered an advanced stage of cancer but still potentially treatable with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. However, the prognosis varies depending on various factors such as age, overall health condition, and the specific characteristics of the cancer.
What is stage 3b lung cancer?Stage 3B mesothelioma means the cancer has spread locally to nearby lymph nodes or organs, but has not spread to distant sites in the body. Treatment options may include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy.
Where does lung cancer spread?Lung cancer can spread to several parts of the body, including the bones, brain, liver, and lymph nodes. Mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer, forms in the lining of the chest or abdomen. The spread of the disease depend on the stage of the cancer, locations of the tumors, and the type of mesothelioma. As a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart, mesothelioma can spread to nearby tissues and organs, as well as to distant sites through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
Where does lung cancer metastasis to?Lung cancer can metastasize to various parts of the body, including the bones, brain, liver, and adrenal glands. However, mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos exposure, primarily spreads within the chest or abdominal cavity to nearby tissues and organs.
When lung cancer spreads to lymph nodes?When lung cancer spreads to lymph nodes, it is called stage III lung cancer. The spread of cancer to the lymph nodes indicates that the cancer has advanced beyond the initial tumor and requires more aggressive treatment. It is important to work closely with your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan.
What happens when you have lung cancer?Lung cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the lungs. Symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue. The cancer can spread to other parts of the body if not detected and treated early. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation. Mesothelioma is a specific type of lung cancer that is often caused by exposure to asbestos.
How does mesothelioma affect the respiratory system?Mesothelioma affects the respiratory system by starting in the lining of the lungs, called the pleura, and spreading to other parts of the respiratory system such as the diaphragm, lungs, chest wall and the lining of the heart. This can cause symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fluid accumulation around the lungs. As the cancer progresses, it can also affect other organs in the body.
How bad is stage 3b lung cancer?Stage 3b mesothelioma is considered advanced lung cancer and often presents with symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation. It is important to consult with a mesothelioma specialist for personalized treatment recommendations.
How does asbestos causes lung cancer?Asbestos fibers, when inhaled, can become lodged in the lungs and cause inflammation and scarring. Over time, this can lead to genetic damage and abnormal cell growth, ultimately leading to the development of lung cancer, including mesothelioma.
How do you know if you have a tumor?If you have symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and weight loss, it is important to see a doctor. They can perform imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs to check for tumors. A biopsy may also be necessary to confirm a diagnosis. If you have a history of asbestos exposure, it is especially important to get checked for mesothelioma.
How does cancer spread?Cancer can spread through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body. This is called metastasis.
Sources & Author
- What are the symptoms for stage 1 lung cancer? Medical News Today. Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/stage-1-lung-cancer-symptoms. Accessed: 05/29/2022.
- What Is Stage 2 Lung Cancer? Healthline. Retrieved from: . https://www.healthline.com/health/stage-2-lung-cancer. Accessed: 05/29/2022.
- Stage 3 Lung Cancer: Prognosis, Life Expectancy, Treatment, and More. Healthline. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/lung-cancer/stage-3-symptoms-outlook. Accessed: 05/29/2022.
Sources & Author