Health Tips Tuesday: lung cancer symptoms


SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – The American Cancer Society reports that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death making up almost a quarter of all cancer deaths.

Dr. Sudeep Siddappa Malleshappa, attending physician at UMass Chan Medical School at Baystate, spoke to Western Mass News about the symptoms of the disease.

What are the main symptoms of lung cancer?

Malleshappa: “Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States after prostate cancer for men and breast cancer in women. Typically, the most common symptom with lung cancer is cough can be present in up to 50 percent of people. Others could be chest pain, shortness of breath. They could also experience some blood in the cough, but the most common symptom, what see most common is the cough.”

Can non-smokers also get lung cancer?

Malleshappa: “Yes, non-smokers can get lung cancer, but smoking is associated with almost 90 percent of lung cancers. Other things like exposure to asbestos, radiation can also cause lung cancer, but those other factors are minimal compared to smoking.”

Are there ways to prevent lung cancer?

Malleshappa: “The most important way is to quit smoking. Just to give you statistics, somebody who quits smoking, their risk of lung cancer decreases by five years and by 15 years, it’s as low as 80 to 90 percent compared to those actually smoking. Obviously, people who are in a high-risk occupation such as plumbing, electrician, they can use proper equipment to avoid exposure to asbestos, things like that. We also, because it’s the most common cancer to result in death, the United States has put forth recommendations, which includes screening for lung cancer, which can detect it sooner, which involves doing CT scans every year for somebody who is at high-risk, which is someone who is smoking at least 20 packs a year, in the sense of a pack for at least 20 years and for those who between 50 and 80 years of age. They can undergo CT scans every year to help detect the lung cancer sooner and help take care of them in an appropriate way.”