Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

November 2, 2021

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms and to show your support for those battling the disease. Lung cancer is the leading cancer-related cause of death for men and women nationwide. Currently, around 400,000 individuals in the United States are living with lung cancer, wreaking havoc on their respiratory systems.

Awareness and early detection by a are crucial and can lead to a much higher chance of catching the disease during the early stages when remission rates are significantly higher. In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, here’s what you need to know regarding the signs, symptoms, and ways of expressing awareness.


Signs are objective evidence of a disease, apparent to a bystander. In other words, it’s observable. The most common signs of lung cancer include the following:

  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling weak
  • Swelling of lymph nodes (collection of immune system cells) such as those in the neck or above the collarbone
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) from cancer spread to the liver

Certain factors predispose an individual to lung cancer, including age, tobacco use, and exposure to certain chemicals or pollutants: 81 percent of individuals living with lung cancer are over 60, and smoking is responsible for roughly 90 percent of all lung cancer diagnoses. Additionally, ethnicity can affect the likelihood of developing lung cancer, as African-Americans are considered the most susceptible.


Symptoms are subjective, often nonvisual, and apparent only to the individual who is experiencing them. The most common symptoms of lung cancer include the following:

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that won’t go away or keep coming back
  • New onset of wheezing

If lung cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it may cause other issues seemingly unrelated to breathing:

  • Bone pain (like pain in the back or hips)
  • Nervous system changes (e.g., headache, weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, dizziness, balance problems, or seizures)

Only 15 percent of lung cancers are caught in the early stages, drastically influencing the survival rate. The survival rate is currently at around 17 percent, with half of all individuals losing their battle within a year of diagnosis. This further emphasizes the importance of raising awareness. And individuals who are considered at-risk are strongly encouraged to get screened annually for the disease.


Interested in showing your support for Lung Cancer Awareness Month? Here are some ideas:

  1. Rock pearl or white-colored attire, such as a ribbon or bracelet. Consider purchasing a lung cancer awareness ribbon from Amazon through their Amazon Smile program, which donates a percentage of every purchase to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America.
  2. Donate to lung cancer research.
  3. Join the Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA) community and connect with other supporters and survivors.
  4. Listen to, subscribe to, and share The First 7 Days Podcast, a roadmap to assist diagnosed individuals with finding the right doctor and getting the proper treatment for their specific wants and needs.
  5. Show your support on social media platforms using the hashtags #lungcancerawarenessmonth or #lungcancerresearch.

November is the perfect time to raise awareness for the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, promote early screening, and share all of the ways that individuals can strive to improve their lung health. Education on cancerous diseases is critical for achieving a healthier future. Together, we have the power to improve the outcome for individuals and their families who are affected around the world.