The lungs are the parts of the body that we use to breathe. They supply oxygen to the organs and tissues of the body. The lungs are divided into areas called lobes. The right lung has three lobes and the left lung has two lobes.1

Image of the lungs.

About lung cancer

Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way to form a tumour in the lung. It can start in any part of the lungs or airways.2

There are two main types of lung cancer.

  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): This is the most common kind of lung cancer and accounts for 80–85% of lung cancers.
    There are three common types of non-small cell lung cancer: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC): This is much less common, accounting for 15–20% of cases. It usually spreads more quickly.

Symptoms of lung cancer4

Recognising the symptoms, and seeking help early, is important in securing the best possible outcome.

The following list details common symptoms of lung cancer.

 

Image of a head with accompanying text 'Persistent cough that lasts three weeks or more'.

Persistent cough that lasts three weeks or more

Image of lungs with accompanying text 'Repeat chest<br />
infections'.

Repeat chest infections

Image of a person touching their chest with accompanying text 'Chest and/or shoulder pain'.

Chest and/or shoulder pain

Image of a head with accompanying text 'Coughing up<br />
blood'.

Coughing up blood

 
Image of a head with accompanying text 'Change in a long-term cough, or a cough that gets worse'.

Change in a long-term cough, or a cough that gets worse

Image of weighing scales with accompanying text 'Loss of appetite and/or unexplained weight loss'. Loss of appetite and/or unexplained weight loss

Image of a head with accompanying text 'Breathlessness'.

Breathlessness

 

What causes Lung Cancer?

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.5 This means smokers and ex-smokers have an increased risk of developing lung cancer. However, it is by no means the only cause; in fact, 28% of lung cancer cases aren’t caused by smoking.5

The leading causes of lung cancer include:5

1 Smoking
2 Passive smoking
3 Exposure to asbestos, radon gas and other occupational chemicals
4 Diesel fumes
5 Poor diet
6 Lack of exercise
 

Role of mutations in Lung Cancer6,7

Pie chart showing the 'Types of NSCLC Gene Mutations' KRAS, EGFR, ALK, PIK3CA, HER2, ROS, RET, MAP2K1, MET, AKT1.<br />

 

Source: Kantar Health Cancer Impact; Multiple secondary sources for Biomarker splits
WT, wild type

 

 

Support for Lung Cancer Patients

There are several organisations in the UK that offer support, resources and information for people living with lung cancer, and their families/friends.

  • Cancer Research UK: Freephone helpline: 0808 800 4040
  • Macmillan Cancer Support: Freephone helpline: 0808 808 0000
  • Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation: Freephone helpline: 0800 358 7200
  • British Lung Foundation: Helpline: 03000 030 555

 

References

  1. Macmillan. The Lungs. Available at: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/lung-cancer/... (Accessed June 2021).
  2. Macmillan. What is lung cancer? Dr Neil Bayman video. Available at: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/lung-cancer (Accessed June 2021).
  3. Cancer Research UK. Types of lung cancer. Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/lung-cancer/stages-types-g... (Accessed June 2021).
  4. Macmillan. What are the symptoms of lung cancer? Available at: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/lung-cancer/... (Accessed June 2021).
  5. Royal Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. Risk factors and causes of lung cancer. Available at: https://www.roycastle.org/about-lung-cancer/risk-factors-and-causes/ (Accessed June 2021).
  6. Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. Lung cancer mutations. Available at: https://roycastle.org/about-lung-cancer/getting-diagnosed/types-of-lung-... (Accessed June 2021).
  7. Gautschi O, et al. J Thorac Oncol 2015;10:1451–1457.
  8. Kantar Health Cancer Impact; Multiple secondary sources for Biomarker splits.
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UK | August 2021 | 118707
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