Lung cancer facts
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK – more than breast or prostate cancer. More women die of lung cancer than breast cancer, and around 100 people die every day from lung cancer in the UK.
Sadly, most lung cancer is diagnosed at a late stage and typically this when people start to have severe symptoms such as prolonged coughing, losing weight, pneumonia and coughing blood.
Currently in the UK, if you receive a diagnosis of late stage lung cancer, your chance of survival at five years can be as low as 5%.
If, however, the cancer is caught early and you’re treated, your chance of survival at five years can be greater than 90%.
Late stage lung cancer means that the tumour in the lung is large and has spread to other parts of the body.
Early stage lung cancer means that only a small area of the lung is affected by the cancer, which means that it can be removed surgically or treated with radiotherapy.
In other words, early diagnosis is vitally important to pick up the lung cancer at an early stage.
You can read more about lung cancer here:
Lung Cancer Types
There are various different sorts of lung cancer, and we think of them as being either primary lung cancer or secondary lung cancer. Primary lung cancers originate in the lungs, and in secondary lung cancer the cancer has spread from another part of the body to the lungs.
There are two main types of primary lung cancer – ‘small cell’ and ‘non-small cell’ lung cancer and it’s important to understand which one you might have, because the treatment and prognosis is very different between the two.
What is non-small cell lung cancer?
Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer. Within the category of lung cancer, there are several further different sorts. These include adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
It is important to know which sort of non-small cell cancer you might have because each type responds differently to different types of anti-cancer treatment and may grow at different rates. For example, some squamous cell cancers may grow quite quickly whilst some adenocarcinomas may grow extremely slowly and may be present for many years before they start to cause trouble.
Treatment of Non-small cell lung cancer depends completely on the stage of the disease. Part of my job is making sure that we get the stage absolutely right to enable the cancer team to recommend the correct course of treatment for you. Treatment can include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Also as science is improving every year we now also have immunotherapy and other systemic treatments that directly targeted to specific sorts of non-small cell lung cancer.
What is small cell lung cancer?
Small cell lung cancer is the less common of the two types of primary lung cancer and it tends to be very aggressive. Even if you have small cell lung cancer, anti-cancer therapy can make a big difference to how it progresses. We tend to treat small cell lung cancer with chemotherapy, but sometimes it’s a combination between chemotherapy and radiotherapy, depending on what stage cancer is and where exactly it has spread.
You may be asking yourself, if you’ve been given a diagnosis of small cell lung cancer, ‘what is the prognosis?'. As with every kind of cancer the prognosis depends on the stage of the cancer, and how you are as a person, which we call the performance status.
In small cell cancer, the prognosis is generally quite poor, and unfortunately survival can be quite poor.
If you’re concerned that you might have symptoms of lung cancer or if you’re been told you have a lung nodule, I’m here to help.
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