[avatar user=”HSutton” size=”150″ align=”left”]

Thanks to years of public education messages, we are much more skilled at recognizing common diseases like skin, breast and thyroid cancers. But could you spot the signs of a cancer that’s much less obvious?

Lung cancer is often considered a “silent killer.” There are no outward lumps, bumps or obvious symptoms to tip you off. But its impact is enormous. It is the cause of more than 228,000 diagnoses each year and the culprit in one-quarter of all cancer deaths in the U.S.

Even if you’ve never smoked, it’s important to stay alert. You might be surprised to learn the majority of lung cancer sufferers aren’t tobacco users. Roughly 60 percent of cases are among people who have never smoked or who quit decades ago.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. We hope you will celebrate with us by sharing these common signs with friends and loved ones:

  • Persistent coughing that lasts longer than three weeks
  • Chronic “chest colds”
  • Coughing blood
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Pain in the chest or shoulder
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue or loss of energy

The sooner you detect lung cancer, the greater your chances for recovery. If you notice several of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor for testing.

If you’re a current smoker, there are lots of resources to help you quit. You can call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine (1-800-QUIT-NOW) seven days a week to get set up with a Quit Coach and access to nicotine replacement therapies. The Knox County Health Department also offers helpful services to help you kick cigarettes for good.