Lung cancer is the third most common and serious type of cancer in the UK with around 47,000 people diagnosed each year. It is rare in people under 40 and more common as you get older. With 4 out of 10 people diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK being aged 75 or over.

Lung cancer is when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way to form a tumour in the lung.

Causes of Lung Cancer

Smoking is the most common cause of Lung Cancer and accounts for 72% of all cases. It can also be caused by passive smoking, exposure to radon gas, air pollution and chemicals in the workplace.

Types of Lung Cancer

There are two main forms of primary lung cancer (Lung Cancer that starts in the Lungs). These are classified by the type of cells in which the cancer starts growing. They are:

1. non-small-cell lung cancer

This is the most common form, accounting for more than 87% of cases. There are three type of non-small-cell lung cancer:

  • squamous cell carcinoma,
  • adenocarcinoma
  • large-cell carcinoma.


2. small-cell lung cancer

This is a less common form that usually spreads faster than non-small-cell lung cancer.

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Symptoms Of Lung Cancer

Unfortunately there are not usually any early warning signs or symptoms to help diagnose lung cancer, noticeable symptoms do not usually appear until the cancer has already spread through the lungs or into other parts of the body.

Lung cancer can be discovered by chance during an x-ray or scan for a different reason. Many people with lung cancer will eventually develop symptoms including:

  • a persistent cough
  • coughing up blood
  • feeling out of breath
  • unusually tired
  • unexplained weight loss
  • aches or pains when breathing or coughing

Survival rates depend on both the type of lung cancer and also the stage of the cancer when it is diagnosed.

Treating Lung Cancer

The outcome of lung cancer has gradually improved over recent years. People are usually given more than one treatment at a time which might include surgery, drug therapies, radiotherapy or palliative care.

What To Do if you think you have Lung CAncer?

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period of time, please contact your GP at your earliest convenience to be examined. Do not delay.

Things to remember

The best thing that you can do for your health to minimise the risk of getting lung cancer is to stop smoking as soon as possible – Read more about the benefits of quitting.

Useful Links

The British Lung Foundation

NHS – Lung Cancer