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9 Lung Cancer Symptoms to Watch Out For

Medically reviewed by Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD · General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Nicole Alexine Florendo · Updated Feb 02, 2022

9 Lung Cancer Symptoms to Watch Out For

Studies show that stage 1 lung cancer symptoms may not manifest immediately. When lung cancer is in its early stages, the affected person may feel normal and experience no symptoms at all.

But being that each patient is unique, this might not always be true. However, if you have the slightest suspicion that you have an existing health issue, these are the most common signs you need to look out for stage 1 cancer symptoms. 

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer globally. The World Health Organization noted that in 2017, deaths caused by lung cancer in the Philippines reached 11,365 or 1.84% of total deaths. 

In the Philippines, lung cancer is the leading cause of death due to cancer in both men and women, accounting for 15,454 deaths or 17.9% in 2018.

The likelihood of a person getting lung cancer is affected by various risk factors. Though cigarette smoke (cigar and pipe tobacco smoke), including secondhand smoke, causes most lung cancers, there are other environmental factors that influence a person’s chance of developing lung cancer.

Detecting lung cancer during its earlier stages will allow more treatment options and a higher chance of survival.

Read on to learn more about common stage 1 lung cancer symptoms.

Stage 1 Lung Cancer Symptoms   

Blood in phlegm

If you are experiencing coughing up blood or tinted phlegm, it is highly likely that you have stage 1 lung cancer. The blood that you cough up mainly comes from the bleeding outside your lungs or lacerated airways. 

Coughing up blood is reported by 20 to 50% of patients who are diagnosed with lung cancer. This happens when the tumor damages the airways. This is a cause for concern because large volumes of blood may cause suffocation.

Lingering and worsening cough

A cough is a common health issue that people get once in a while especially during flu season and changes in weather. However, lung cancer can cause a new onset of cough or a change in a chronic/ persistent cough. Combined with coughing up blood, this should prompt medical evaluation.

Shortness of breath

One important symptom that you shouldn’t ignore is shortness of breath, which can be caused by either the tumor blocking your airways or fluid accumulation in the lungs as a result of lung cancer.

stage 1 lung cancer symptoms


This audible sound on breathing is caused by tumor blockade on your airways. This should prompt medical evaluation as wheezing may be caused by asthma or worse, lung cancer. It is a common stage 1 lung cancer symptom among others. Whether it is cancer or not, wheezing should not be taken lightly. 

Voice Hoarseness 

A change in voice, whether it has become raspy or high-pitched is another stage 1 lung cancer symptom. 

Vocal cords are able to create sounds through muscle movements coming from the lungs. However, lung cancer can invade or eat up the nerve that triggers that motion. Hoarseness can also be indicative of other conditions, so it would be best to consult a doctor. 

Chest pain that worsens when coughing or laughing

A vast majority of cases involve chest pain as an indication of a stage 1 cancer symptom. Chest pain in lung cancer is usually present in advanced stages. This usually happens when the lung cancer invades the pleura, or the covering of the lungs. However, chest pain itself warrants medical consult as this usually happens in people experiencing heart problems.

Loss of appetite and sudden weight loss

One of the first signs of cancer is sudden and unexplained weight loss. This could be due to a weakening immune system where cancer cells are absorbing the energy needed for metabolic processes.  Weight loss of more than 5 percent of usual body weight (e.g. 10 lbs in 3 months), or loosening of clothes, can be the first sign of lung cancer.

Arm, shoulder and neck pain

This is usually caused by the lung tumor at the top of the lungs (the so-called Pancoast tumor). Other symptoms include weakening of the hand due to the pressure on the nerve that stimulates the arm.


Another early symptom of lung cancer are headaches. 

Headaches can be caused by lung cancer, especially when the lung tumor compresses the large veins, or superior vena cava, blocking blood flow in the brain from flowing back to the heart.
However, this headache is typically accompanied by facial swelling, redness, and shortness of breath. If all these are present, consult your physician immediately.
stage 1 lung cancer symptoms

What is Stage 1 lung cancer?

Lung cancer happens when cells in the lungs mutate into abnormal cells.

There are different types of lung cancer, each with its own characteristics. Some grow much faster than the others. Early detection and avoiding risk factors is the key to preventing this disease.

If you have symptoms suggesting lung cancer, your doctor will conduct an examination  and order additional tests, including blood works, chest X-rays or scans. Further tests may be required, depending on the results of these scans.

Now once you have consulted your doctor and you are diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer what exactly do you need to prepare for?

Once lung cancer is diagnosed, the next step is called staging. This process involves measuring the size of the lung tumor, determining its exact location and checking for evidence that it has spread. Through this process, a patient is either classified as early stage or advanced stage.

Stage 1 non-small cell lung cancer denotes that cancer has been detected in the lungs, but it has not yet spread outside the infected area.

To put it plainly, Stage 1 non-small cell lung cancer denotes that cancer has been detected in the lungs, but it has not yet spread outside the infected area. The non-small cell lung cancer has tumors that are invasive but have not yet reached any lymph nodes. 

Early-stage lung cancers are generally managed with surgery, with the goal of removal of the tumor. However, people who cannot have or who prefer not to have surgery can be treated with radiation therapy directed to the tumor.
Advanced stage lung cancers are not treated with surgery, but are instead treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy in combination.

“Invasive” may sound quite intimidating however, it just means that cancer has spread beyond the top layer lining of cells in the airways. A common treatment for stage 1 lung cancer symptoms would be immediate surgery. 

Since the cancer cells have yet to metastasize, the doctors would still be able to remove the tumor from the lungs through surgery. On the other hand, those with stage 1B lung cancer, oncologists or doctors who specialize in lungs may possibly recommend chemotherapy as a treatment. Stage 1 lung cancer symptoms are treatable and more manageable compared to those in the more advanced stages. 

It is important to consult your doctor if you have any of these warning signs of lung cancer. Patients with early-stage lung cancer who are treated well can live up to 5 years or more. More importantly, the best way to avoid getting lung cancer is to quit smoking and live a healthier lifestyle.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD

General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Nicole Alexine Florendo · Updated Feb 02, 2022

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