Many conditions may cause dyspnea and coughing. In cancer patients, causes may include the following:
Direct effects of the tumor
- A tumor that spreads to airways, the chest cavity, lung, vein that carries blood through the chest to the heart, or lymph vessels near the lungs.
- Pericardial effusion (too much fluid inside the sac that covers the heart).
Indirect effects of the tumor
- Pneumonia, an infection of the lung. Anticancer therapy increases a patient's risk of developing infections.
- Blood clots or tumor cells that break loose and block a blood vessel in the lungs.
- Paralysis of part of the diaphragm.
- Scarring of the lung by radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
- Weakening of the heart muscle by chemotherapy.
Conditions the patient may have unrelated to the cancer
- Chronic obstructive airway disease
- A condition in which the blood is too acidic
- Weakened muscles in the airways that cause spasms.
Conditions with no known physical cause, such as anxiety.