Can’t shake a cough? It could signal something more deadly.
Have you been dealing with a cough that you just can’t seem to shake? While it’s perfectly normal to experience a nagging cough every now and again, a lingering or worsening cough could also be a red flag.
“A nagging or worsening cough is one of the most common symptoms of lung cancer, one of the deadliest types of cancer,” says Dr. Axel Joob, a thoracic surgeon at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “What makes lung cancer so dangerous is that it can progress and grow undetected until the symptoms become much more serious and the disease becomes harder to treat.”
Of course, a nagging cough alone isn’t cause for panic, but it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of non-small cell lung cancer (the most common type of lung cancer). Other warning signs to look for include:
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite/weight loss
“In addition to recognizing the risks and symptoms of lung cancer, prevention and early detection through lung cancer screening are so important in protecting ourselves against this disease,” Dr. Joob says.
“Typically, only 25 percent of patients diagnosed with lung cancer present themselves in the early stages. Evaluations show that lung cancer screening is an important tool in finding and treating lung cancer at an early stage,” Dr. Joob says.
Low-dose CT scans are a powerful and effective screening tool in detecting lung cancer early, before you start to see these signs and symptoms and when the disease is easiest to treat. The scan involves X-ray technology that takes detailed images of the lungs to help physicians find even the smallest tumors. It is a simple test that has been proven to reduce the risk of death from lung cancer by up to 20 percent.
You are eligible to undergo low-dose CT scans if you:
- Are between the ages of 50 and 77
- Smoke an average of one pack per day for at least 20 years, or have an equivalent “20-pack-year” smoking history
- Are currently smoking or quit smoking within the last 15 years
- Are showing no signs or symptoms of lung cancer
Want to know more about your risk for lung cancer? Take our lung health risk assessment today. For more information about screenings, click here if you live in Illinois. Click here if you live in Wisconsin.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.
Is the low-dose CT scan covered by insurance if the criteria is met. Otherwise, what would a patient’s cost be?