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Metastatic lung cancer. Three words no one ever wants to hear. But, because nearly 40% of people with newly diagnosed lung cancer already have metastases to other parts of the body, it’s important to understand the gravity of the term and how early recognition of symptoms may help prevent lung cancer from spreading.
Metastatic lung cancer is lung cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. The process is referred to as metastasis and it occurs when parts of the tumor in the lung break off and travel through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other areas of the body where they continue to grow. It’s important to note that lung cancer that spreads to the bone, for example, is still referred to as lung cancer, not bone cancer. The same applies to lung cancer that spreads to the brain and other regions of the body.
Being that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States, it’s surprising that only a small percentage of the population are familiar with the most common symptoms. Unfortunately, almost half of the people diagnosed with the disease are already in its advanced stages.
It’s estimated that nearly 90% of all people diagnosed with lung cancer have symptoms at the time of their diagnosis. So why is it that people aren’t being diagnosed sooner? Besides the lack of public awareness of the most common symptoms mentioned previously, early symptoms of lung cancer are often subtle or vague. They’re also often attributed to something else entirely. What can we do to change this?
Recognizing the following early symptoms of lung cancer may lead to earlier diagnosis and improve your chances for survival.
In addition to the common symptoms of lung cancer listed above, the following symptoms are less commonly associated with the disease:
Sadly, lung cancer is most often diagnosed after it’s already spread to other areas of the body. The most common regions of metastases include the brain, bones, liver and adrenal glands.
Possible symptoms of metastatic lung cancer include:
If you think you have any of the early symptoms of lung cancer or symptoms relative to metastatic lung cancer, it’s important you schedule an appointment with your primary care provider as soon as possible to be thoroughly evaluated. Don’t hesitate. It could cost you your life.
Eldridge, Lynne MD. Where Does Lung Cancer Spread? Verywell.com. Updated July 14, 2017.