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20% of people who die from lung cancer have never smoked before - so make sure you're aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease

by , 13 January 2017
20% of people who die from lung cancer have never smoked before - so make sure you're aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease
You've never picked up a cigarette in all your years. So it's impossible that you may have lung cancer, right? Wrong. Lung cancer, the leading cancer killer of both men women in America, doesn't only develop in people who smoke.

In fact, 20% of people who die from lung cancer have never smoked at all. So why might someone who's never smoked get lung cancer? According to Dr Robert McKenna, a thoracic surgeon at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica in California in the US, exposure to radon is often to blame. Radon is an odourless gas that's present in homes.

Other air pollutants that can cause lung cancer include general air pollution and second-hand smoke. The environmental hazard asbestos may also play a big role. So whether you've been smoking for the past 20 odd years or have never lit a cigarette in your life, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer!

Here are five lung cancer symptoms that you should take seriously. If you're experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor immediately.

Five common signs and symptoms of lung cancer

#1: You’re unexplainably dropping weight
You may be happy to drop a couple of kilos without changing your diet or workout plan. But it should actually concern you if you’re dropping weight without even trying! Dr McKenna explains, “As with any cancer. A more advanced tumour may make proteins that tell your body to lose weight.” So if you find yourself with little to no appetite as well, it’s a sure sign that something’s wrong – and it may be lung cancer.
 
#2: You have weakness in your hip muscles
Do you struggle to get up out of a chair? This is a strange yet common lung cancer warning sign. Lung cancer takes a toll not only on your organs, but on your muscles, too. And one of the first areas that may be impacted are your hips. But you may also experience weakness in your arms, legs and shoulders.

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#3: You feel a deep ache in your bones
As explained, lung cancer affects your organs. According to Dr Jack Jacoub, a medical oncologist and director of thoracic oncology at Memorial Care Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in California, once lung cancer spreads to your organs it can cause a deep ache in your bones and joints. Your hips and back are two of the most common sore spots, says Dr Jacoub. If this is the only symptom you’re experiencing, first get your vitamin D levels tested as this is also a sign of vitamin D deficiency and therefore may not be lung cancer.
 
#4: You have an infection in your lungs
It’s true that in majority of cases, viruses are the culprits of lung infections such as chronic bronchitis. But, sometimes, an infection in your lungs may be an indication that you have lung cancer. This especially holds true if you’re always getting sick, or if every sickness seems to go directly to your chest or lungs.
 
#5: You have a lingering cough
A lingering cough is one of the earliest signs of lung cancer. “The majority of people with lung cancer have a cough, occasionally with blood,” says Dr McKenna. If you’re coughing up a thick, bloody mucus, your body may also be trying to warn you that you can lung cancer. Even if you have a dry cough, if it doesn’t go away for more than a month, you should definitely chat to your doctor about it.

PS: Go here for four things every man should know about melanoma - the deadliest form of skin cancer that's most common in men.

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