Cachexia is key symptom of lung cancer seen in 60% of patients

Lung cancer: Dr Amir describes the symptoms in February

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Cancer symptoms are often vague and subtle, making the condition hard to identify. Fortunately, knowing what to look for could be the first step towards prompt detection. Although lung cancer targets the pyramid-shaped organs in your chest, “key” symptoms can also appear in your stomach, according to an expert.

While a stubborn cough is an infamous warning sign of lung cancer, other parts of your body could break the news of the scary condition.

According to Medical Negligence Solicitor Kim Jackson, from Patient Claim Line, “key red flag” sign is cachexia.

Cachexia, or weight loss, is the result of your body not absorbing all the fat, protein and carbohydrates from the foods you eat.

People with lung cancer often find they are losing weight unintentionally, even if they are sticking to their normal diet.

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Another reason why you might find yourself a few stones lighter comes down to burning calories faster than normal, according to Cancer Research UK.

The charity states: “Scientists think that cancer releases chemicals into the blood. The chemicals contribute to the loss of fat and muscle.”

What’s more, cachexia is considered quite prevalent, with the sign affecting around 60 percent of patients.

“About 60 out of 100 people with lung cancer have a loss of appetite and significant weight loss at the time of their diagnosis,” Cancer Research UK adds.

Apart from weight loss, Ms Jackson also detailed other red flags that could point to lung cancer.

She said: “Red flag symptoms include a persistent cough that can deteriorate, coughing up blood and chest pain that is worse with deep breathing, coughing or laughing.

“A loss of appetite, weight loss that cannot be explained and fatigue are also key signs of lung cancer.

“Watch out for hoarseness, breathlessness, a new onset of wheezing and infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that are persistent.”

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However, Doctor Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy warned that the deadly condition doesn’t always show warning signs.

The doctor said: “Unfortunately, most lung cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, but studies show that one third of patients have visited their GP an average of three times before their diagnosis was made. This is because early lung cancer often has no symptoms.”

According to the expert, cough is one of the more “common” and important symptoms.

While various conditions, ranging from asthma to hay fever, can spur on this sign, it’s important to get a cough that has been present for more than three weeks checked.

The doctor added: “Identifying lung cancer early means looking at risk factors, such as smoking, which causes 71 percent of all UK lung cancers, and considering a range of symptoms in those aged over 40, who smoke or have ever smoked.

“However, it is prudent to remember that 10-15 percent of lung cancers develop in people who have never smoked.

“Other important risk factors are exposure to asbestos, exposure to silica often through sandblasting or glass making, diesel engine exhaust, and aerosols inhaled while painting or welding.”

Doctor Lee recommended speaking to your GP if you’re worried about any symptoms or having smoked your whole life.

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