Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer. Around 47,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK.
There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, but many people with the condition eventually develop symptoms including:
- a persistent cough
- coughing up blood
- persistent breathlessness
- unexplained tiredness and weight loss
- an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
You should see a GP if you have these symptoms.
Types of lung cancer
Cancer that begins in the lungs is called primary lung cancer. Cancer that spreads to the lungs from another place in the body is known as secondary lung cancer. This page is about primary lung cancer.
There are two main forms of primary lung cancer. These are classified by the type of cells in which the cancer starts growing. They are:
- non-small-cell lung cancer – the most common form, accounting for more than 87% of cases. It can be one of three types: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma or large-cell carcinoma.
- small-cell lung cancer – a less common form that usually spreads faster than non-small-cell lung cancer.
The type of lung cancer you have determines which treatments are recommended.
Treating lung cancer
Treatment depends on the type of mutation the cancer has, how far it's spread and how good your general health is.
If the condition is diagnosed early and the cancerous cells are confined to a small area, surgery to remove the affected area of lung may be recommended.
If surgery is unsuitable due to your general health, radiotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells may be recommended instead.
If the cancer has spread too far for surgery or radiotherapy to be effective, chemotherapy is usually used.
There are also a number of medicines known as targeted therapies. They target a specific change in or around the cancer cells that is helping them to grow. Targeted therapies cannot cure lung cancer but they can slow its spread.
Lung cancer does not usually cause noticeable symptoms until it's spread through the lungs or into other parts of the body. This means the outlook for the condition is not as good as many other types of cancer.
About 1 in 3 people with the condition live for at least 1 year after they're diagnosed and about 1 in 20 people live at least 10 years.
However, survival rates vary widely, depending on how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis. Early diagnosis can make a big difference.
Helping you to stop smoking
Stopping smoking is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health and wellbeing. Free support to help people stop smoking is available in North Yorkshire.
Living Well Smokefree has a team of advisors who have plenty of experience in helping people to stop smoking for good. They will see anyone from the age of 12, have community-based locations across North Yorkshire and can arrange home visits for people who have mobility issues. If you are pregnant and would like to quit, you can access the service yourself or ask your midwife to refer you. You will be offered a choice of a home visit or an appointment in a clinic if you prefer.
Living Well Smokefree offers personalised, one-to-one support over six to 12 weeks. For as little as 30p a day* you can get:
- access to a dedicated Stop Smoking Consultant;
- a supply of either Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or Champix; or
- local weekly one-to-one sessions.
*Based on one quit product per person who pays prescription charges. The products are free to people who do not pay prescription charges.
We know that people who use this combination of support are four times more likely to quit - and stay quit. You can contact the Living Well Smokefree team for advice about giving up smoking for good by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01609 797272.
- More information, support and advice to help you stop smoking is available for free on the NHS Better Health website.