Lung tumors can cause chest pain that worsens when coughing, laughing, or breathing deeply. Chest pain is most likely to develop during the later stages of lung cancer.
Lung cancer develops when lung cells begin to grow uncontrollably. Over time, this causes tumors to form within the lungs, sometimes causing chest pain and other symptoms.
This article discusses chest pain and lung cancer. It also lists other symptoms of advanced lung cancer, including metastatic lung cancer, and outlines treatments.
Lung cancer tumors may press against nerves or reduce a person’s breathing capacity, causing chest pain. A 2022 review states that
According to the
- breathing deeply
Chest pain does not necessarily indicate lung cancer since it can be a symptom of other conditions. Therefore, someone with chest pain or other lung cancer symptoms should seek a doctor’s advice.
There are many other symptoms of lung cancer besides chest pain,
- a persistent or worsening cough
- coughing up blood
- shortness of breath
- appetite loss
- unexplained weight loss
- persistent or recurring infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia
Lung cancer can also present in
- a smaller pupil in one eye
- weakness or drooping in the same upper eyelid
- reduced or absent sweating on the same side of the face
Other symptoms of lung cancer include swelling, headaches, and dizziness. In some cases, an individual may lose consciousness. These symptoms could indicate superior vena cava (SVC) syndrome, a life threatening complication of lung cancer.
Anyone with symptoms of SVC syndrome should seek immediate medical attention.
Learn about the early signs and symptoms of lung cancer.
Symptoms of advanced lung cancer
Metastases are cancers that begin in different areas of the body. As the
- Bone metastases: These can cause bone pain in areas such as the hips or back.
- Nervous system metastases: These can cause balance problems, weak or numb limbs, and seizures.
- Liver metastases: These can cause jaundice.
Lung cancer can also spread to lymph nodes, causing noticeable swelling.
Early diagnosis and treatment offer people with lung cancer the best likelihood of survival. However, the cancer is already at stages 3 or 4 in
Treatment for advanced lung cancer has varying goals. While in earlier stage 3 lung cancers, doctors try to cure the disease, later stage lung cancer is not curable. Treatment aims to alleviate symptoms and prolong a person’s life.
Treatment for advanced lung cancer may involve a combination of the following approaches:
Treatment can be effective, even in the most advanced stages of lung cancer. There was a 2021 study comparing the survival rates of people with advanced lung cancer. The authors wanted to gauge the efficacy of the following treatments:
- radiation therapy
- platinum-based chemotherapy
- tyrosine kinase inhibitor targeted therapy
The study included 736 people with stage 4 lung cancer. Without any of these treatments, the average survival rate was 16.1 months after diagnosis. Contrastingly, with at least one of these treatments, the average survival rate increased to around 23.3 months.
Some metastases are more common than others. A
- 34.3% had liver metastases
- 32.6% had adrenal gland metastases
- 14.9% had bone metastases
- 12% had central nervous system metastases
- 10.9% had kidney metastases
Lung cancer can also spread to other body parts. The same study noted metastases in the spleen, intestines, and ovaries.
As lung cancer develops, tumors can grow within the lungs. These tumors can press up against nerves, causing chest pain and reducing a person’s ability to breathe. Chest pain from lung cancer may worsen when breathing deeply, coughing, or laughing.
Lung cancer can cause many other symptoms, such as tiredness, hoarseness, and shortness of breath. If lung cancer metastasizes, it can cause symptoms that affect other organs. These more commonly include the liver, bones, and adrenal glands.
In many cases, lung cancer is asymptomatic in its early stages when it is most treatable. Although advanced lung cancer is incurable, treatment can improve life expectancy.