Lung cancer: ‘I had nothing wrong with me apart from a cough’ – patient shares first signs

Lung cancer: Dr Amir describes the symptoms

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Julie Smith, 73, from Pontypridd, mistook her lung cancer symptoms for coronavirus at first. Lung cancer begins in the two spongy organs in your chest. Although this condition mainly targets “older” people, anyone can be affected.

Lung cancer is considered one of the most common cancer types, with more than 47,000 new cases each year, the NHS reports.

What’s worse, this cancer also belongs on the gloomy list of the most serious types.

In fact, this condition is recognised as one of the leading causes of death by the World Health Organization.

Julie first experienced symptoms of lung cancer during a family holiday in Butlins in 2021.

Remembering the trip, Julie told the BBC: “I went on the big water slide and everything and then the cough started.

“I had nothing wrong with me apart from a cough.

“And then a couple of weeks later my taste started to go.

“I’d had all my Covid injections so I thought ‘well I’ll be alright, but I’ll just have Covid’,” the grandmother-of-four recollected.

Although there are usually no symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, patients will eventually develop some problems.

According to the NHS, the signs include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Persistent breathlessness
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Weight loss
  • Ache or pain when breathing or coughing.

The health service urges everyone to see a GP if they experience symptoms like these.

Based on her two symptoms, Julie thought she had Covid and ended up taking four tests.

However, they came back negative. After visiting her GP, she received the diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

“From ‘you’re not ill’ and then to being diagnosed with all this, I just can’t believe it,” she said.

Unfortunately, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and bones so curing it was unlikely.

The 73-year-old is now receiving immunotherapy combined with chemotherapy. In case you’re not aware, immunotherapy details a group of medicines that stimulate the immune system to attack and kill cancer cells.

Sadly, in Julie’s case, these treatments are only used to prolong her life.

The grandmother added: “I worry about the children and how they’re all going to cope.

“What was frightening is that I had no symptoms. I had nothing wrong with me except this cough.”

Other symptoms that are less prevalent but can occur include:

  • Changes in the appearance of your fingers (becoming more curved or their ends becoming larger)
  • Difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Swelling of your face or neck
  • Persistent chest or shoulder pain.

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