Early Lung Cancer Symptoms in Women and Men

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Finger clubbing

It is specific changes in the fingers & fingernails (especially changes in the shape). It can make the nail curve more than usual, the ends of fingers will look larger, and over time it may also cause extra areas of bone that form on the joints of finger (this may be mistaken for arthritis).

It is more common in non-small cell lung cancer. Sometime it is also found in people with advanced heart problems.

Superior vena cava obstruction

Swelling of the face may occur at the advanced stages of lung cancer. The tumor can be large enough to cause a significant pressure to the large (main) blood vessels in the neck, causing a blockage called superior vena cava.

This blockage inhibits the flow of blood from the arms and head to the heart. As a result, you may also experience swelling around the trachea (windpipe), causing breathless. Other problems associated with superior vena cava include change in eyesight, pain in the chest, cough, and dizziness.

Cancers of food pipe (esophageal cancer), breast, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be potential to cause superior vena cava, too!

Pleural effusion

Cancer that grows in /around the lungs can cause excess buildups of fluids between the lining of chest cavity and the outside of the lungs, a condition called pleural effusion. This excess fluid accumulation can inhibit the lungs from expanding optimally when you inhale or take a breath, making you short of breath.


The spongy tissue in the bones, called bone marrow, is the place for the production of your red blood cells, white blood cells, and thrombocytes (platelets).  A normal thrombocytes count is about 150,000 – 450,000 /microliter of blood.

Normally, thrombocytes can stick together to help make blood to form a clot. This is essential to stop bleeding such as when you have an accident (when you get a cut or accidentally damage your blood vessels).

But when they are produced too many (higher than what your body needs), you will have some problems (though it usually doesn’t cause early symptom) such as: fainting, temporary change in vision, weakness, chest pain, lightheadedness, headache, or numbness /tingling of feet and hands.

Some cancers (including lung cancer) can cause thrombocytosis. Other common causes are allergic reaction and acute blood loss (bleeding).

About pancoast cancerous tumor

It is a condition of when the cancer grows at the top of the lungs. This can lead to specific signs, particularly such as pain in the inner part of scapula, severe shoulder pain, and pain extending to the inner arms.

Less common symptom is Horner’s syndrome (a condition that occurs when the cancer press or cause damage to a nerve that lines from the neck to the face), this may cause; a small pupil of one eyelid, weakness /dropping in that eye, and loss of sweating on both sides (same sides) of the face.

Other symptoms

These may include:

  1. Change in voice, especially such as hoarseness.
  2. Problem in swallowing. Over time, cancer in the lung can affect the way of how you swallow, causing difficulty swallowing.
  3. Primary cancer in the lung can spread and affect the nearby lymph nodes. The enlarged lymph nodes can lead to swelling in the neck.
  4. In the metastasis of lung cancer, it can spread to the liver. The affected liver causes discomforts (especially pain) under the ribs of the right side.

Symptoms related to particular hormones

Cancer in the lung can release hormones into the bloodstream. And this may cause symptoms that seem not-related to problem in the lungs.

These symptoms can vary from patient to patient. In general, these include:

  1. Numbness /pins & needles in the toes or/and fingers.
  2. Weakness of muscles,
  3. Swelling in the breast (not in women, typically in men).
  4. Thrombosis, blood clot.
  5. Weakness, confusion, or dizziness!

If you experience one or some of these symptoms, this doesn’t mean that you definitely have lung cancer. Again, there are other medical conditions (from mild to severe) that can cause similar symptoms.

Citations /references:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19995649
  2. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/lung-cancer/about/lung-cancer-symptoms
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/thrombocytosis/basics/causes/con-20032674


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