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Early Symptoms of Lung Cancer in Women

author image Rae Uddin
Rae Uddin has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2004. She specializes in scientific journalism and medical and technical writing. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Uddin earned her Master of Science in integrated biomedical sciences with an emphasis in molecular and cellular biochemistry from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
Early Symptoms of Lung Cancer in Women
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in both women and men. Photo Credit thorax x-ray of the lungs image by JoLin from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Approximately one in 16 women in the United States develops lung cancer during her life, according to health experts with the National Lung Cancer Partnership. Lung cancer occurs when irregular cells grow rapidly within a woman's lung tissue. The disease doesn't usually cause early symptoms, according to MayoClinic.com, but when it does, women typically mimic the same signs as men.

Persistent Cough

A persistent cough may be one of the earliest symptoms of lung cancer that women develop. Cough symptoms arise due to lung inflammation caused by cancer cell growth. Women who have pre-existing cough symptoms might notice an unusual change in the sound or frequency of the cough, explain medical professionals with the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. Severe lung inflammation can cause certain women with lung cancer to cough up small amounts of blood containing mucus. As lung cancer advances, cough episodes in women could become more pronounced or frequent.

Chest Pain

Lung irritation due to cancer growth can cause chest pain symptoms in women with this disease, according to MayoClinic.com health experts. Sensations of chest pain can be constant or intermittent and may be more severe during coughing episodes.

Breathing Difficulties

Cancer cell growth along a woman's bronchial tubes or lungs can narrow or constrict her airways. Consequently, women with lung cancer can experience breathing difficulties as early symptoms of disease. Affected women can experience shortness of breath, especially during physical activities, such as climbing a flight of stairs. When a woman inhales, a high-pitched squeaking noise or wheezing may arise as oxygen squeezes through her narrowed airway passages, explains the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library.


Airway inflammation due to lung cancer can cause early symptoms of vocal hoarseness in affected women, report MayoClinic.com medical professionals. A woman's voice might sound unusually rough or raspy. It can be difficult for a woman to speak clearly or loudly due to hoarseness.

Flulike Symptoms

Flulike symptoms can emerge as early signs of lung cancer in women. They can experience increased fatigue, unusual weakness, decreased appetite or weight loss due to lung cancer, explains the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library.

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