Coughing up blood
“Coughing up blood is never a good sign. Right then and there, go see your doctor,” says Raja Flores, MD, professor and chairman of thoracic surgery at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Although cancer may not necessarily be the cause of your bloody coughs, you should definitely get tested as this is one of the signs of lung cancer, he says. These are 15 cancer symptoms women are most likely to ignore.
Pay attention to chest, back, or shoulder pain that’s new and doesn’t go away. You may notice a feeling of tightness, or a sharp pain that can get worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing. “You feel pain where the tumor is located,” says Dr. Flores. “If the tumor is to the side, you’ll feel pain on your side, if it’s toward the back of the chest you’ll feel pain in your back.” Any chest pain warrants a call to your doctor, just in case, he says. Here’s how to know if your chest pain is a sign of a heart attack, instead.
A persistent cough
Coughing fits can be caused by something as simple as allergies, a cold, or water down the wrong pipe; but if your cough never seems to go away, it could be a sign of something more serious, like lung cancer. “Cancer in the airway can irritate your throat and make you cough,” says Dr. Flores. “There’s something in there that’s not supposed to be there, so your body is trying to get rid of it.” Cancer can also produce mucus, which exacerbates the cough and makes it worse. Don’t miss these lung cancer facts doctors wish you knew.