Lung cancer remains difficult to diagnose during the early stages of the disease because of it’s vague symptoms at the onset. However, it is the responsibility of the health care professional to look for symptoms that may indicate lung cancer, and to initiate further testing if anything seems unusual. These early symptoms can include a recurring lung condition (such as bronchitis or pneumonia) that doesn’t improve with medication, chest pain, a cough with bloody sputum, back/shoulder pain, shortness of breath and hoarseness or changed voice.
The best diagnostic tool for evaluating lung cancer is still the chest x-ray. Although chest x-rays are not always a reliable test and can fail to show a cancerous mass, most of the time signs of cancer do show up on these x-rays. Unfortunately, there have been many medical malpractice cases involving health care professionals who have not been properly trained and who failed to identify growths on the x-rays, thereby missing the diagnosis of lung cancer.