While lung cancer typically affects long-time smokers, the number of never-smokers being diagnosed with lung cancer is increasing. In fact, 20% of people who die of lung cancer have never smoked. Moreover, lung cancer in people who have never smoked seems to affect a younger population.
Lung cancer seems to be increasing among young people aged 30 to 40 who have never smoked in their life. Experts are still trying to figure out why exactly, but potential causes could be high radon levels in homes (which can easily go unnoticed), exposure to second-hand smoke, and family history.
In addition, heavy air pollution, as well as carcinogenic substances such as asbestos, can also be to blame.
Can you spot these 5 early symptoms of lung cancer?
Given the increase in the number of lung cancers in people who do not appear to have risk factors for the disease, it is important to pay attention to concerning symptoms and bring them to the attention of a doctor.
Here are the 5 warning signs to watch out for:
1 Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is one of the main symptoms of COVID-19, so it’s on everyone’s radar these days. But it is also a symptom of lung cancer. If you are an active person who can no longer climb a few flights of stairs without stopping for a breath, this is an unusual and concerning symptom.
2 A racing heart
A racing heart during minimal activity may be the first warning sign that something is going on. Young people who are the five-mile race type and now feel their hearts pounding as they walk to their cars in the parking lot must be worried.
3 Chronic cough
It’s common to catch a cold or the flu (or now, COVID-19), especially in winter. And the cough may persist longer than expected (on average 18 days). A dry, persistent, throbbing cough that has lasted four to six weeks or more, however, may indicate that you need to have an x-ray to check your lungs.
4 Spitting Blood
This is never normal, and it requires urgent evaluation. The causes can range from lung cancer to bronchitis, to a viral or bacterial infection.
5 Weight loss, fever, night sweats
Weight loss (without dieting), fevers not related to an illness, or profuse night sweats are all symptoms that would prompt your doctor to evaluate you for hidden cancer.