Primary lung cancer is when cells in your lungs or airways start to grow abnormally and in an uncontrolled way. It’s one of the most common cancers in the UK – around 44,500 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. It’s more common in people over 60.
There are two main types of lung cancer, depending on the kind of cell the cancer starts in:
There aren’t usually symptoms or signs in the early stages so people are often diagnosed after the cancer has already spread. In these cases it is harder to treat, but treatment can slow the progress of the cancer and ease symptoms.
Your GP will discuss your symptoms and may ask you to breath into a spirometer – a device that measures how much air you can force out in one breath to measure your lung capacity.
They might recommend a blood test to rule out other conditions, such as a chest infection.
If this is inconclusive, they’ll refer you for an X-ray. If this shows abnormal shadowing or other changes, a specialist can conduct other tests to confirm if you have lung cancer and its stage. These tests include:
Primary lung cancer is caused by smoking in 85% of cases.
Other factors include:
If you smoke, it’s important to stop to help improve your treatment outcomes and avoid further complications.
Treatment depends on:
You may receive a combination of different treatments, depending on your circumstances. Common treatments are:
Less common treatments include:
Even if it’s not possible to cure your tumour, a multi-disciplinary team can recommend further treatment to help control the growth and ease your symptoms.