Lung cancer symptoms: A belly symptom may be one of the first signs of the deadly disease
Lung cancer symptoms tend to only appear once the cancer has spread, but some people with early lung cancer do have symptoms, a charity warns. While a cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse is one of the most common symptoms of the disease, not all symptoms are directly linked to the lungs.
According to American Cancer Society, some lung cancers make hormone-like substances that enter the bloodstream and cause problems with distant tissues and organs, even though the cancer ha snot spread to those places.
The charity explains: “These problems are called paraneoplastic syndromes.
“Sometimes these syndromes may be the first symptoms of lung cancer.
“Because the symptoms affect other organs, a disease other than lung cancer may first be suspected as causing them.”
The charity adds some common syndromes include high levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause belly pain.
This is because hypercalcemia can affect the digestive system.
Other symptoms that can appear if hypercalcemia occurs include frequent urination, thirst, constipation, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, dizziness and confusion.
Another paraneoplastic syndrome is SIADH (syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone).
American Cancer Society explains: “In this condition, the cancer cells make ADH, a hormone that causes the kidneys to hold water. This lowers salt levels in the blood.
“Symptoms of SIADH can include fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, and confusion. Without treatment, severe cases may lead to seizures and coma.”
Cushing syndrome is a condition in which the cancer cels make ACTH, a hormone that causes the adrenal glands to make cortisol.
The charity says this can lead to symptoms such as weight gain, easy bruising, weakness, drowsiness, and fluid retention.
It adds: “Cushing syndrome can also cause high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, or even diabetes.”
The main symptoms of lung cancer
The main symptoms of the disease are listed by the NHS as:
- A cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks
- A long-standing cough that gets worse
- Chest infections that keep coming back
- Coughing up blood
- An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
- Persistent breathlessness
- Persistent tiredness or lack of energy
- Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
The health body advises if you have any of these, to contact your GP.
Less common symptoms of the disease are listed by the NHS as:
- Changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their ends becoming larger (this is known as finger clubbing)
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or pain when swallowing
- A hoarse voice
- Swelling of your face or neck
- Persistent chest or shoulder pain
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