Lung cancer symptoms
The main symptoms of lung cancer are:
- a persistent new cough (lasting more than three weeks) or a change in a cough you’ve had for a long time
- pain in the chest or shoulder
- chest infection that lasts more than three weeks or that keeps coming back
- coughing or spitting up blood.
A person diagnosed with lung cancer may also have symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, hoarse voice, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, abdominal or joint pain, and enlarged fingertips (finger clubbing).
Having any one of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have lung cancer. Some of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions or from the side effects of smoking. However, if you have symptoms, see your doctor without delay.
Sometimes, there are no symptoms and the cancer is found during routine tests (e.g. x-ray, CT scan) for other conditions.
For an overview of what to expect during all stages of your cancer care, visit Cancer Pathways – Lung Cancer. This is a short guide to what is recommended, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.
A/Prof Nick Pavlakis, President, Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group, President, Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, and Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Dr Naveed Alam, Thoracic Surgeon, St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne, VIC; Prof Kwun Fong, Thoracic and Sleep Physician and Director, UQ Thoracic Research Centre, The Prince Charles Hospital, and Professor of Medicine, The University of Queensland, QLD; Renae Grundy, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Lung, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; A/Prof Brian Le, Director, Palliative Care, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre – Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and The Royal Melbourne Hospital, and The University Of Melbourne, VIC; A/Prof Margot Lehman, Senior Radiation Oncologist and Director, Radiation Oncology, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Susana Lloyd, Consumer; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Nicole Parkinson, Lung Cancer Support Nurse, Lung Foundation Australia.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment