According to research published by the National Health Service, about 1 in 10 people who receive a diagnosis and then treatment for lung cancer will live beyond 10 years. Just the same, lung cancer can be a scary diagnosis to consider. One of the latter-stage signs of some types of lung cancer is a persistent cough. However, a cough is not always an indication that you have lung cancer. To make sure you do not experience unnecessary worry with a persistent cough, here is a look at just a few of the signs that a cough is more than just a cough and you should see your doctor.
The cough lasts for a long time.
Generally speaking, a cough is a sign of some sort of respiratory disturbance. The cough may be related to something like:
- Exposure to irritating chemicals or contaminants in the air you breathe
- A medication you are taking that interferes with respiratory function
- An illness that affects the respiratory system, such as a common cold
These types of coughs may show up and last for a while, but they do generally get better or subside. A cough that is associated with lung cancer is more likely to be a long-term issue that doesn’t necessarily get better periodically or go away.
The cough is accompanied by pain in your chest.
According to the Mesothelioma Cancer Network, mesothelioma may be accompanied by chest pain because of fluid accumulation in the lungs. Coughing that is accompanied by pain in your chest should be something you speak to the doctor about for sure, but it may not always be a sign that you have lung cancer. Some everyday illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia may also involve some pain in your chest when you cough or when you take in a deep breath.
The cough produces bloody mucus or sputum.
With some forms of lung cancer, a persistent cough may also lead to blood in your sputum or coughing up bloody mucus. The reason behind this can vary depending on the type of cancer. Some people experience bloody sputum because cancer is affecting the lining in their lungs. The bloody sputum may look bubbly or even frothy, but it can also look like thick mucous that is slightly tinged with blood. Keep in mind that when the bronchial tubes experience trauma, this can also cause bloody sputum. Therefore, even if you do have blood coming up when you cough, it may not be a definitive sign of lung cancer.
The cough is not the only symptom you are experiencing.
Most people who develop a cough due to lung cancer will also have other symptoms of the disease. For example, you may experience frequent shortness of breath, changes in appetite, weight loss, or a litany of other problems. Any time you suspect what you have is something more than just a cough, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a medical professional.