What are the signs and symptoms of secondary lung tumors?

Updated: Feb 16, 2021
  • Author: Daniel S Schwartz, MD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, MSc, DSc, AGAF  more...
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Lung metastases commonly cause no symptoms, but in some cases they can be the major cause of morbidity. Symptoms include hypoxemia, dyspnea, cough, and hemoptysis. Hypoxemia and dyspnea are most commonly observed in patients with lymphangitic spread, and cough and hemoptysis are associated with endobronchial metastases. Palliative care to address symptoms or local treatment with curative or palliative intent may be indicated.

The presence of hypoxemia cannot be explained by a cancerous process in the absence of lymphangitic spread, major lung collapse, or massive pleural effusion. Thus, it is usually a finding in patients with advanced disease. The presence of hypoxemia in the absence of these conditions should prompt the search for causes such as the following:

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