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Lung Cancer Awareness

Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer. Around 44,500 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


Symptoms of lung cancer

There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer. However, symptoms develop as the disease progresses.  The main symptoms of lung cancer are listed below. If you have any of these, you must see your GP:


  • a cough that doesn’t go away after two to three weeks

  • a long-standing cough that gets worse

  • persistent chest infections

  • coughing up blood

  • unexplained persistent breathlessness

  • unexplained persistent tiredness or lack of energy

  • unexplained persistent weight loss

  • persistent chest or shoulder pain



Types of lung cancer

Cancer that begins in the lungs is called primary lung cancer. Cancer that begins in another part of the body and spreads to the lungs is known as secondary lung cancer. There are two main types of primary lung cancer. These are classified by the type of cells in which the cancer starts.


They are:

  • non-small cell lung cancer (of which there are three different types, called squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma)

  • small cell lung cancer


The type of lung cancer you have determines which treatments are recommended.

Non-small cell lung cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for around 88% of all cases.


Small cell lung cancer

Small cell lung cancer accounts for around 12% of all cases. Small cell lung cancer is more aggressive than non-small cell lung cancer, and it usually spreads faster

Treating lung cancer

Treatment depends on the type of cancer, 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 is usually 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.




References: Cancer Research UK, NHS Choices Macmillan Cancer Support


Further information can be found at the following links:












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