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Symptoms and Signs of Lung Cancer Symptoms vs. Asthma

Doctor's Notes on Lung Cancer Symptoms vs. Asthma

Lung cancer is a group of diseases characterized by abnormal growths (cancers) that started in the lungs and can metastasize to other body sites. Asthma is an inflammatory disease that affects (narrows or shuts off) the breathing passages of the lungs (bronchioles) by swelling and/or mucus production; it does not metastasize. Signs and symptoms shared by both include cough and shortness of breath. Wheezing is usually associated with asthma while chest pain and coughing up blood is more associated with lung cancer. Asthma is considered to be a segment of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) while lung cancer is not. In many instances, asthma may resolve itself or resolve with medication rapidly but lung cancer does not. Asthma attacks can be triggered by many different situations (for example, exercise, perfumes, allergens but lung cancers are not triggered but about 90% re associated with smoking.

Causes of lung cancer is not entirely known but smoking is the major risk factor for this disease. Although the exact cause of asthma is unclear, many compounds and environmental situations are known to trigger asthma attacks. For example, exercise, chemicals like perfumes, air pollution, animal dander and many others may trigger an attack. However, each individual is different, so what may trigger your asthma attach may or may not trigger one in someone else.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/21/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.