Which clinical history findings are characteristic 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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Patients with multiple pulmonary nodules as a result of metastatic spread can be asymptomatic, especially those with indolent, slow-growing cancers, such as papillary thyroid cancer or adenoid cystic carcinoma of the salivary gland. However, the clinical presentation of patients with pulmonary metastatic lesions occurring late in the course of advanced extrapulmonary cancer is commonly dominated by the signs and symptoms of advanced/terminal malignant disease and by signs and symptoms associated with the primary cancer.

Lymphangitic spread of the cancer into the lungs is associated with the recent onset of rapidly progressive dyspnea at rest and, occasionally, dry cough. This pattern is usually encountered in patients with a known history of cancer, most commonly of the breast, stomach, pancreas, or prostate.

Endotracheal and endobronchial metastases can be associated with new-onset cough, shortness of breath, and, occasionally, hemoptysis and chest pain.

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