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Lung cancer: 8 symptoms for rapid diagnosis

Early-stage lung cancer has a good prognosis, but early detection is crucial.  Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women. Māori have a much higher incidence and mortality.

The persisting cough in the patient with COPD ± smoker is a common presenting symptom. The 8 symptoms1 are:

  • Cough >3 weeks
  • Haemoptysis
  • Chest or shoulder pain
  • Dyspnoea
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss >10%
  • Unresolving chest infection
  • Symptoms suggestive of metastasis (liver, bone, brain, skin). In some parts of the country, if the CXR is suggestive of a curable lesion the chest CT can be bypassed but refer them to the respiratory team (refer local pathways). The e-referral should state “high suspicion of cancer”. In those cases, the team may arrange a PET-CT scan.


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