Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can coughing be a symptom of lung cancer?"
My father is a lifelong smoker so naturally I worry about his health. For about a year, he has had a cough that won't quit - could that be a symptom of lung cancer? I try to get him to go to the doctor, but he won't go because he thinks they'll scold him for smoking.
Smoking causes damage to the lungs, predisposing to several different medical conditions. Any chronic cough in a smoker must be evaluated as soon as possible to determine the underlying cause. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common consequence of long term smoking and is caused by degeneration of the lung tissue or plugging of airways by thick mucus. This commonly results in thick sputum, cough, and shortness of breath. Lung cancer is another cause of chronic cough, especially if accompanied by blood in the sputum or weight loss. However sometimes the only symptom of the cancer can be the cough. Finally, those who smoke chronically are at a higher risk of many infections of the lung, including fungal infections, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. As always the diagnosis and the management of your father's particular concerns will require a physical examination by his personal physician. Setting up an office visit with his primary care doctor is very strongly recommended.
Need more info?See a doctor today
Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.