Verify your email address to receive email notifications.

Verification sent. Please check your inbox to verify your address.

Unable to send verification. Please try again later.

  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Early signs of lung cancer?

    Related Topics
    I have been a regular smoker for decades and was recently diagnosed with emphysema. Does this mean I am also at a higher risk of developping lung cancer?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 4

    Thanks

    Dr Samantha Herath

    Respiratory & Sleep Medicine Physician

    Dr Samantha Herath completed her Respiratory and Sleep Medicine training in New Zealand, Australia and Canada. She has extensive post-fellowship, sub-speciality training in Sleep Medicine … View Profile

    The answer to this question is "yes" and "no". As explained below.

    Yes, if you have been a smoker or is still smoking, your risk of getting a lung cancer is much higher than a lifetime nonsmoker.80% of lung cancers occur in current or ex-smokers. The link between tobacco smoking and the occurrence of lung cancer is well proven. Even when you give up smoking, it may take up to 15 years before your risk of getting a lung cancer becomes similar to a non-smoker of the same age and sex.

    No, just because you are diagnosed with emphysema, doesn't mean that eventually you will be diagnosed with lung cancer.

    However, since the cause of lung cancer, as well as emphysema, is smoking, there are more lung cancers diagnosed in patients with emphysema.

    The best management option is to quit smoking if you have not done so already.

    After that aim to improve your lung health. Exercise regularly, eat well-balanced meals, have a regular check-up with your GP. Treat chest infections early and adequately. Take the flu vaccination regularly.

    The next important step is to watch out for early signs of lung cancer. Change in shape of nails, called 'clubbing", a cough that doesn't go away, coughing up blood tinged sputum could be among the many signs of lung cancer. In the USA there is a recent introduction of a screening program where at-risk individuals are screened with a yearly low-dose CT chest scan to identify early lung cancer. There is no such screening program in Australia yet.

    In the USA there is a recent introduction of a screening program where at-risk individuals are screened with a yearly low-dose CT chest scan to identify early lung cancer. This type of screening increases the chance of surviving if diagnosed with an early stage lung cancer. There is no such government-funded screening program in Australia yet.

    However, the risk of cancer depends on a variety of factors.

    If you are worried ask your doctor (GP) to refer you to a Respiratory Specialist, who can risk assess you objectively and discuss the best plan of action and ease your anxiety.

answer this question

You must be a Health Professional to answer this question. Log in or Sign up .

You may also like these related questions

Ask a health question

Empowering Australians to make better health choices