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Lung Cancer

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

The most common signs and symptoms of lung cancer are:

These symptoms develop slowly and are often thought of by the patient as a typical smoker's cough or a common cold. This, along with the tendency of doctors to think at first that the symptoms are due to bronchitis, pneumonia or flu, often leads to a delay between the start of symptoms and establishing the diagnosis of lung cancer.

Unfortunately, most lung cancers will be in advanced stages before causing any symptoms. Historically, more than 60% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer are incurable when a patient consults a doctor about symptoms.

Because of the high number of patients presenting with advanced disease, the 5-year survival rate in patients diagnosed with lung cancer is 15%. The overall 5-year survival rate of patients with localized lung cancer treated by surgical removal of the cancer with goal to cure is 60%.

This late presentation and poor overall survival has caused doctors to take steps to identify ways of reducing the number of lung cancer cases and identify lung cancer at an earlier more curable stage when it does occur.

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The information in this article is based on "LUNG CANCER: Battling the Number 1 Cancer Killer," presented on October 7, 2003 at the University of Cincinnati Mini Medical College, and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2004.

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Last Reviewed: Dec 06, 2006

John   Howington, MD John Howington, MD
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati