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Lung Cancer

Patient Support

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lungs. It is also called primary lung cancer. If it starts in another part of your body and spreads to affect your lung, it’s called secondary lung cancer.

There are two major types of primary lung cancer. Each type of lung cancer grows and spreads in different ways and maybe treated differently.

Non-small cell lung cancer

This is the most common type of lung cancer. It usually spreads more slowly than other lung cancers. 

There are three major types of non-small cell lung cancer:

Out of these, Adenocarcinoma is the particular type which can occur in people who never smoked.

Small cell lung cancer 

This is a less common type of lung cancer and it spreads faster than non-small-cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is named after the size of cancer cells, which can only be seen under a microscope.


Anyone can get lung cancer. Lung cancer happens when cells in the lung mutate or change. Various factors can cause this mutation (a permanent change in the DNA sequence of a gene) to happen. Most often, this change in lung cells happens when people breathe in dangerous, toxic substances.

1. Smoking

 Around 90% of cases of smokers has a higher risk of developing lung cancer though it can also occur to non-smokers. 

Your risk of getting lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes you’ve smoked and the number of years you’ve been a smoker. If you stop smoking, the risk gets lower over time.

2. Non-Smokers

Some people who have lung cancer have never smoked a day in their lives. The risk factors for non-smoker are:

“Non-smokers who live or work in smoky air can get lung cancer from second-hand smoke”


When the mutated cells increase in number it leads to the formation of a lump called tumour. Symptoms depend upon the severity of the tumour until it becomes quite large. This means it might only be discovered when you have an X-ray or scan for a different reason.

Most lung cancer patients don’t have any symptoms. As your condition progresses, you may begin to experience symptoms, such as:

People with these symptoms could have lung cancer, or it could be something else. If you have these symptoms, you should see your doctor.


Your diagnosis depends upon the medical history, examination of your body, and by further tests.

1. Medical History

Your doctor may ask:

In case the examination suggests cancer, then your physician might advise for further tests. 

2. Imaging Tests

Your doctor might order imaging tests that may help to find lung cancer. The test may be advised before or after the diagnosis of cancer. 

Imaging tests make pictures of the inside of your body which help the doctors to know if:

These tests include:

3. Test done through procedures

To see if there is something suspicious, the doctor studies the tissue or fluid from or around the lung. Many different procedures allow doctors to remove cells from the body and look at them under a microscope to determine if they are cancer.

These tests include:

4. Lung Cancer Screening: Test For Healthy Individuals

Screening is looking for cancer before you have any symptoms, which can help find cancer at an early stage when it may be easier to treat. It is done annually and for those who have a risk of cancer.

Data show that screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) reduces the risk of dying from lung cancer in the high-risk population studied. Other screening tests such as chest X-rays and sputum cytology are not effective and are not recommended for screening.

If you meet the following criteria, you are considered to be at “high risk” for developing lung cancer and screening is recommended:

5. Lung Cancer Staging


Staging means finding out how much cancer has spread in the body. The treatment plan and the general outlook for your recovery depend upon staging by evaluating the size and shape of tumour.


Three factors are used to determine the lung cancer stage (sometimes referred to as the TNM classification system).

The lower the lung cancer stage, the less cancer has spread. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is described using two stages: limited and extensive.


Different treatments work for different types of lung cancer. To decide on treatment for a particular patient, doctors look at:

Pump or Puffer

After looking at those factors, doctors may recommend one or more of these treatments.


Pneumonectomy Doctors remove one entire lung (people can breathe using the remaining lung).

Segmentectomy or wedge resection: Doctors remove a section of the lung (a lobe).

Lobectomy: Doctors remove a part of a lobe.

Laser surgery: A high-energy beam of light destroys the cancer cells in a tumour.


Chemotherapy is a therapy that fights against the cancer. Some kinds of chemotherapy come in pills. Other kinds are delivered into your bloodstream by intravenous drip (IV), where a machine slowly drips medicine into tubes that go into your veins. Some chemotherapy is given by injection (a shot).

It is often used after surgery to kill the remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy is used before surgery for easy removal of the cells by shrinking them.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells by aiming beams of radiation from different angles. The radiation can be delivered by a machine that directs the high-energy rays towards cancer, or by a small radioactive pellet that gets implanted in or near the tumour.


Questions for your Doctor

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This information was provided by the Gynaecologic Cancer Foundation.
Doctors estimate that over 90 percent of lung cancer cases are related to smoking. However, a small percentage of people who get lung cancer do not have a history of smoking or being around second-hand smoke. So, not all smokers get lung cancer and not all lung cancer patients were smokers.


There is really no way to know for sure if a woman is going to get lung cancer.
Since it is known that smoking tobacco causes most cases of lung cancer, a woman who smokes would benefit from quitting as soon as possible, even after being diagnosed with lung cancer. When a woman quits smoking, her risk of getting the disease declines over time. Non-smokers can benefit from never starting and from staying away from those who do smoke.


Smoking is known as a controllable risk factor. Quitting greatly reduces a woman’s chances of getting lung cancer. In fact, quitting smoking can greatly reduce a woman’s risk of many other cancers as well. These include cancers of the bladder, pancreas, larynx, mouth, oesophagus, pharynx, and kidney. There are many ways to quit smoking. Women who would like to quit smoking should talk to their doctor about creating a plan to quit.
Many people with cancer get a second opinion from another doctor. There are many reasons to get a second opinion, including if the person is not comfortable with the treatment decision, if the type of cancer is rare, if there are different ways to treat the cancer, if there may be clinical trials available for this type of cancer; or if the person is not being treated by a lung cancer expert.
There are many ways to get a second opinion:


  • The person’s primary doctor may be able to recommend a specialist such as a surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, or plastic surgeon. Sometimes these doctors work together at cancer centres or programs.

  • Patients can get names of doctors from their local medical society, a nearby hospital, a medical school, or local cancer advocacy groups, as well as from other people who have had that type of cancer.