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The ‘less common’ symptoms of lung cancer ‘we don’t always associate’ with the disease

Lung cancer is one part of the quadrumvirate of cancers that are the most common in the UK. Every year over 48,000 people will be diagnosed with the condition and of this group, around 34,000 will die. Furthermore, just 10 percent of people who are diagnosed with lung cancer will survive for 10 or more years. Despite these tragic statistics, Cancer Research UK estimates close to 80 percent of cases are preventable. However, that is not today’s focus, which is on symptoms of lung cancer, but not necessarily the one you’re expecting.

Not all symptoms of lung cancer centre around the lungs or breathing. According to Lead Cancer Nurse Lisa Jaques of Perci Health, a symptom of lung cancer can be detected in the arm.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Jaques said: “Lung cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms in its early stages and many of the signs and symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions.

“Finding lung cancer early can mean that it’s easier to treat, so it’s important if you notice any symptoms or changes to get them checked out by your GP.

“There are less common symptoms that we might not always associate with lung cancer including pain in the shoulder travelling down the arm.” And pain in the arm isn’t the only symptom of lung cancer not found in the body’s airways.

READ MORE: Asthenia is the most common symptom of pancreatic cancer seen in 86%

Another unusual symptom of the disease according to Jaques is “the tips of the fingers becoming more curved or larger”. Also known as “finger clubbing” this can also be the sign of other conditions.

Although pain in the arm and clubbed fingers can be signs of lung cancer, they aren’t the main symptoms.

The main symptoms, as listed by Jaques, are:
• A cough that lasts for three weeks or more
• A change in a cough you have had for a long time – it may sound different or be painful when you cough
• Feeling breathless doing things you can usually do without a problem
• Coughing up phlegm (sputum) with blood in it
• Having an ache or pain in the
• Chest or shoulder chest infections that keep coming back or a chest infection that doesn’t get better
• A hoarse voice for three weeks or more
• Loss of appetite
• Feeling tired all the time (fatigue)
• Losing weight unintentionally.

Should any of these symptoms arise, it is essential that an appointment with your GP is booked so that tests can be undertaken to diagnose the condition.

What about NHS?

Although the NHS is under pressure, if you feel unwell it is important to get seen.

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How can I reduce my risk of lung cancer?

Lung cancer may have a poor 10 year survival rate, but it has one of the highest prevention ratios, meaning it is one of the cancers one can easily act to reduce their risk of.

The most effective way to do this is to not smoke. The NHS said: “If you smoke, the best way to prevent lung cancer and other serious conditions is to stop smoking as soon as possible. However long you have been smoking, it’s always worth quitting.

“Every year you do not smoke decreases your risk of getting serious illnesses, such as lung cancer. After 12 years of not smoking, your chance of developing lung cancer falls to more than half that of someone who smokes. After 15 years, your chances of getting lung cancer are almost the same as someone who has never smoked.”

However, there are other ways too, including those which aren’t just related to what you eat, but what you breathe.

READ MORE: FDA announces recall of blood pressure drug over cancer fears

What I breathe?

Recently scientists have found a link between lung cancer and air pollution. Researchers from the Francis Crick Institute, Cancer Research UK, and UCL, revealed how air pollution can cause lung cancer in people who haven’t smoked.

The research examined data from over 400,000 people and found that exposure to a type of particulate matter known as PM2.5 could promote the growth of cells which contain cancer causing mutations.

Presented by Professor Charles Swanton in September, the research noted how air pollution causes one in 10 lung cancer cases in the UK. Professor Swanton said: “Cells with cancer-causing mutations accumulate naturally as we age, but they are normally inactive. We’ve demonstrated that air pollution wakes these cells up in the lungs, encouraging them to grow and potentially form tumours.

“The mechanism we’ve identified could ultimately help us to find better ways to prevent and treat lung cancer in never smokers. If we can stop cells from growing in response to air pollution, we can reduce the risk of lung cancer.”

As well as lung cancer, air pollution is linked to asthma, heart disease, and as recently as this year, dementia.

Co-author of the study Doctor Emilia Lin added: “According to our analysis, increasing air pollution levels increases the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma and cancers of the mouth and throat.

“This finding suggests a broader role for cancers caused by inflammation triggered by a carcinogen like air pollution.

“Even small changes in air pollution levels can affect human health. Some 99 percent of the world’s population lives in areas which exceed annual WHO limits for PM2.5, underlining the public health challenges posed by air pollution across the globe.”

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