Common Symptoms of Later-Stage Lung Cancer

When a tumor invades the lungs, some of the common effects are respiratory problems, changes in the voice and a persistent hacking cough. Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing at night and frequent infections of the sinuses, nose and mouth are also common symptoms of lung cancer. When lung cancer spreads, most people experience some significant side effects and may become extremely weak and sore. Many people with later-stage lung cancer also lose a lot of weight and have problems with balance and gait.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lung cancer, it’s important to look out for some of the less common signs of later-stage lung cancer. These signs are an indication that the cancer is spreading, and you may need more testing and advanced treatment.  Talk to your physician if you think that your case of lung cancer is becoming severe, or of you are experiencing more severe and intense side effects.

Signs of Later-Stage Lung Cancer

Some of the advanced stages of lung cancer can be difficult to detect, especially if the sufferer has recently been ill, or is taking certain types of prescription medications. Some of the most common signs of later-stage lung cancer include:

  • Clubbing of the fingertips
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness of the muscles and joints
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Difficulty swallowing and breathing
  • Pain in the bones
  • Problems with balance, gait and walking
  • Frequent headaches or migraines
  • Muscle and joint soreness
  • Memory problems
  • Tingling fingertips
  • Overall discomfort in the body

If you notice any of these signs, you need to schedule a diagnostic test with a doctor immediately. Diagnostic test results will determine the type of lung cancer you have, the severity of your cancer, and can help the doctor create a cancer management plan for you.

Testing for Later-Stage Cancer

Doctors use a variety of tests when someone is experiencing some of the common side effects of later-stage cancer. Most pathologists will need take a close look at a tissue sample to see what types of cancer cells are present. In some cases, you will need to take drugs that make you sleep through the entire exam.

Some of the most common types of tests performed for later-stage cancer include:

  • Fine needle biopsy (FNA)
  • Endoscopic esophageal ultrasound (EUS)
  • Sputum cytology
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Mediastinoscopy and mediastinotomy
  • Endrobronchial ultrasound
  • Thoracoscopy
  • Bone marrow biopsy

Some of these tests require passing an endoscope and tube down the esophagus, while others involve taking samples from structures between the lungs. Your doctor will explain what is involved with each type of test during your meeting.

Learn more about the common symptoms of later-stage lung cancer by setting up an appointment with a physician in your area. Your doctor can perform diagnostic tests and a screening to determine what stage of cancer you have, and provide tips on how to manage some of the more severe side effects of later-stage lung cancer.