Distinguishing Symptoms: Lung Cancer vs Asthma

By Rishi May 11, 2024 #asthma #lung cancer

While lung cancer and asthma may share some similar symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath, it’s essential to recognize the distinctions between these two conditions. Lung cancer constitutes about 12.5% of newly diagnosed cancer cases globally, as reported by GLOBOCAN 2022. On the other hand, asthma affects nearly 300 million individuals and contributes to approximately 500,000 deaths according to WHO statistics. Despite certain overlapping symptoms, careful consideration of specific factors can help differentiate between the two diseases. Whereas wheezing is commonly associated with asthma, chest pain and coughing up blood are more indicative of lung cancer.

Here’s how you can distinguish between the symptoms of lung cancer and asthma:

Age: Lung cancer is typically diagnosed in the seventh decade of life, especially in Western countries, though it can occur earlier. In contrast, bronchial asthma is usually diagnosed during the second and third decades of life.

Wheezing: While wheezing is a hallmark feature of asthma, it’s less common in individuals with lung cancer.

Trigger Factors: Asthma patients often have identifiable trigger factors such as household dust, pollen, and air pollution, while lung cancer triggers are less well-defined.

Hemoptysis: Coughing up blood, known as hemoptysis, occurs in only a minority of lung cancer patients (10-20%), whereas it’s extremely rare in asthmatics.

Associated Symptoms: Symptoms like fatigue, unexplained weight loss, bone pain, and neck or collarbone swellings are more commonly seen in lung cancer patients, whereas they’re uncommon in asthma.

Resolution of Symptoms: Asthma symptoms are typically well-controlled with medication, whereas lung cancer symptoms often persist until specific cancer-directed therapy is initiated.

By paying attention to these differences, individuals and healthcare providers can better differentiate between the symptoms of lung cancer and asthma, leading to more accurate diagnosis and timely intervention.

By Rishi

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