Endorsed by the European Oncology Nursing Society

Lung cancer

Lung cancer image

What is lung cancer?

  • Primary lung cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in one or both lungs1
  • Secondary lung cancer develops when cancer cells from another type of cancer, e.g. breast cancer, travel to the lungs via the bloodstream1

Types of lung cancer

  • There are three main types of lung cancer:2
    • Non-small-cell lung cancer2
    • Small-cell lung cancer2
    • Lung carcinoid tumour2
  • Types of lung cancer are classified according to the cells in which the cancer starts3

Who gets lung cancer?

  • Lung cancer is more common in people aged over 65 years, and the average age at diagnosis is 70 years3,4
  • It is much more common in males than in females5,6
  • It is far more common in smokers than in non-smokers3,7
  • It is the most common cancer worldwide8
  • 8 million new cases were diagnosed worldwide in 20128

Screening, detection, and diagnosis

  • Chest X-ray, sputum tests, and low-dose spiral CT have been studied to see whether they reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer; low-dose spiral CT screening is the only test that might decrease this risk, in heavy smokers9
  • The following tests may be used to diagnose lung cancer:
    • Imaging tests such as X-ray, CT, and PET10
    • Biopsy taken during bronchoscopy procedure10
    • Other types of biopsy8

Patient guidelines

A patient guideline is a document containing information for patients and their families about their disease and the treatment options available to them

Here is a link to the European patient guideline on non-small-cell lung cancer11

Local support groups

Contacting a support group may help you during diagnosis and treatment and afterwards



  1. Lungcancer.org. What is lung cancer? Accessed November 2015.
  2. American Cancer Society. Lung cancer. Accessed November 2015.
  3. NHS Choices. Lung cancer. Accessed November 2015.
  4. American Cancer Society. Key statistics for lung cancer. Accessed November 2014.
  5. World Health Organization. Lung cancer including trachea and bronchus. Accessed January 2016.
  6. World Health Organization. Lung cancer: estimated incidence, mortality and prevalence worldwide in 2012. Accessed January 2016.
  7. Cancer Research UK. Lung cancer risks and causes. Accessed November 2015.
  8. World Cancer Research Fund International. Worldwide data. Accessed November 2015.
  9. National Cancer Institute. Lung cancer screening. Accessed November 2015.
  10. NHS Choices. Lung cancer - diagnosis. Accessed November 2015.
  11. European Society for Medical Oncology. ESMO clinical practice guidelines: lung and chest tumours. Accessed November 2015.