Lung Cancer: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 2/23/2018

In up to 25% of people who get lung cancer, there are no apparent symptoms at the time of diagnosis. In others, symptoms can occur from the cancer itself, from the metastatic spread of the cancer beyond its origin in the lung, or from so-called paraneoplastic syndromes that result from the production of hormone-like substances by the lung cancer cells. Common symptoms include

Other symptoms can include

Symptoms of metastatic disease can include

Symptoms common to many cancers include fatigue, unexpected weight loss, and depression.

Causes of lung cancer

Lung cancer develops when a collection of cells in the lung tissue begins to grow and divide uncontrollably. This is usually due to damage to the cells' DNA. A number of agents have been linked to lung cancer; the most well known is tobacco smoking. About 90% of lung cancers are estimated to arise due to tobacco use. Other risk factors for the development of lung cancer include passive smoking, exposure to radon gas, asbestos exposure, air pollution, and certain lung diseases.

Related Symptoms & Signs


United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Lung Cancer." Feb. 8, 2018. <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/23/2018
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