Signs and symptoms

Know the risks

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world. In the UK, around 44,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. It is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK for both men and women. Everyone is at risk of developing lung cancer.

Know the facts

• It is known that smokers and ex-smokers have an increased risk of getting lung cancer.
• One out of every seven people diagnosed each year have never smoked.
• Passive smoking, or breathing in other people's smoke, increases your risk, but not as much as smoking yourself.
• Contact with chemicals found in the workplace or environment, such as asbestos, radon and diesel exhaust fumes may also lead to an increase in lung cancer.

What should I look for?

There are lots of reasons why you might have some of the symptoms below. It may be nothing serious but it's worth getting yourself checked out. If you have any of the following symptoms for more than three weeks, make an appointment with your GP today.

  • A cough that doesn’t go away
  • Blood in your spit (phlegm)
  • Chest or shoulder pain
  • Feeling breathless for no reason
  • Chest infection(s)
  • Coughing up blood
  • Hoarseness in your voice
  • A cough you always have that changes or gets worse
  • unexplained tiredness or lack of energy
  • Weight loss that you can't understand

How do I reduce my risk?

  • Get help to stop smoking.
  • Reduce your exposure to second hand smoke.
  • Diet and exercise can be important.
  • Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Reduce your fat intake.
  • Eat less salt and sugar.
  • Reduce how much alcohol you drink.
  • Take regular exercise.

What will happen next?

Don't delay visiting your GP. It is most likely that this will be nothing serious and will put your mind at rest. If it is lung cancer, early diagnosis and treatment could save your life.

Here's what will happen:

  1. Your GP will examine you. Make a list of your symptoms so you don't forget anything.
  2. Your GP should arrange for you to have a chest x-ray.
  3. Your GP will talk through the results with you.
  4. If you need more tests, your GP should make an appointment for you to see a chest specialist.
  5. If you are diagnosed with lung cancer you will be referred onto a lung cancer team for treatment and care.
  6. If your x-ray is clear but your symptoms continue or get worse and you are still concerned ask to see your GP again

For more information about the signs and symptoms for lung cancer, see our Campaigns section.

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