Pain is one of the strongest signifiers of lung cancer in both its forms. Pain is usually felt in the area surrounding the lung but can spread to other areas of the body as the disease attacks the body. Despite pain being a strong signifier of lung cancer many people are diagnosed without feeling any pain.
Bronchogenic carcinomas or lung cancer is diagnosed by the appearance of microscopic tumor cells. Lung cancer can take two forms, small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). According to the nonprofit organization CancerCare, around 20 percent of lung cancer cases fit into the extremely aggressive SCLC type. These cases are usually linked to smoking as only around 1 percent of cases are diagnosed in non-smokers. The NSCLC type is more commonly diagnosed with around half of all cases affecting non-smokers and mostly occur the the outer or peripheral lung.
Usually a cough is the initial symptom in smokers and non-smokers. Chest pain symptoms usually manifest as aching, dull and persistent pains in the lung and surrounding area which are caused when cancerous cells attack the wall of the lung.
Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS) is commonly associated with lung cancer causing pain in the muscles, particularly soreness in the joints around the pelvis and thighs. LEMS is caused by disruption of the electrical impulses associated with antibodies that are produced as a result of auto-immunity. Pain is a symptom of LEMS alongside muscle weakness and tingling sensations in the affected areas.
Pain is often found in lung cancer patients to be associated with Dysphagia that causes a blockage of the major airway. Pressure is placed upon the esophagus, which leads to pain and difficulty in swallowing. Obstructions caused by dysphasia lead to chest pain, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Associated with brain function and the structure of the brain, encephalopathy can lead to problems with muscle structure and thickness. Painful symptoms of encephalopathy include seizures, loss of consciousness and involuntary rapid eye movement.
Lung cancer is often associated with myelopathy, which causes painful bones and bone-marrow pain and dysfunction. Bone problems are also shown in abnormal bone growth leading to bone pain and painful joints.