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What Are the Symptoms of Metastatic Lung Cancer?

lung cancer spread

When lung cancer metastasizes, or spreads, it can cause a variety of symptoms. Initially, the symptoms are concentrated in the upper part of the chest. These symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Chest pain

However, if the cancer continues to spread to other parts of the body, the symptoms can become more complex and wide-ranging. In these instances, the symptoms can vary based on where the cancer has spread.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer That Has Spread to the Brain

One of the most common places for lung cancer to spread is the brain. Brain metastases can create pressure inside the skull, potentially leading to headaches, seizures, blurred vision and problems with memory and balance.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer That Has Spread to Bones

Bones are another common destination for lung cancer metastases – especially the pelvic bone, upper arm bones and the spine. On occasion, lung cancer can also spread to the bones in the hands and feet. Bone metastases can cause chronic pain in the affected bone, while also making the bone more prone to fracturing. In the case of spinal metastases, a tumor can even compress one of the nearby nerves or nerve roots, leading to neurological symptoms such as pain that radiates down an arm or leg.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer That Has Spread to the Liver

Lung cancer is also prone to spreading to the liver, where it can interfere with proper liver function. Liver metastases can cause:

  • Jaundice
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • A sensation of constant fullness

Other Generalized Symptoms of Metastatic Lung Cancer

In addition to site-specific symptoms, metastatic lung cancer can also cause generalized symptoms such as fatigue and unexplained weight loss.

While any of these symptoms may not be particularly alarming on their own, they should always be evaluated by a medical professional if they last for an extended period of time – especially in individuals who have previously been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Bruna Pellini.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we use the latest diagnostic technologies that can detect even the smallest and most distant lung cancer metastases. And, referrals are not necessary to consult with our experienced oncologists. If you’re concerned that you might be experiencing the symptoms of metastatic lung cancer and would like to request a consultation with our team, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.