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May 07, 2012

Chronic Cough Could be Due to Lung Cancer

BBC News recently reported that chronic cough may be due to lung cancer.

Here are my two cents on this condition in support of this assertion.

I often seen patients for chronic cough... not the kind that has been going on for only a few weeks, but the kind of cough that has gone on for over 1 or more years. Even 10-20 years.

It is not unusual for such patients to have seen an ENT, GI, pulmonary, and allergy specialists to try and stop their cough.

In particular, such patients may be informed their cough is not due to the lungs after getting a chest x-ray and pulmonary function tests which all come back normal along with lack of response to inhaler medications.


Unfortunately, some patients' chronic cough is due to lung cancer which is only discovered on additional studies including bronchoscopy and CT scan of the chest. Obtaining only a chest X-ray and breathing tests are not sufficient enough.

Now, it certainly is not necessary to perform these additional specialized studies in every patient who has been coughing for a few weeks... but when somebody has been coughing for over 1 year, a more intensive search for abnormalities is required.

In my clinic, it is not uncommon that a patient who has been coughing for over 1+ years ends up being found to have lung cancer.

Of course, there are other causes of chronic cough including reflux, allergies, post-nasal drip, medication side effect, etc that also needs to be looked into.

For more info on chronic cough.


Source:
Persistent cough 'could be lung cancer warning' BBC News 5/6/12
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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