Dr Patrisha Macnair last medically reviewed this article in September 2012.
On this page * What is lung cancer? * Lung cancer symptoms * Lung cancer causes * Diagnosing lung cancer * Staging lung cancer * Lung cancer treatments * Advice and support * Print this page
What is lung cancer?
There are several different types of primary lung cancer (cancer which starts in the cells of the lung), which are generally divided into: * Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) : this includes 3 main types of lung cancer - squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma, which behave in a similar way and so are treated similarly. * Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) : these account for about 1 in 8 lung cancers. They tend to spread quite early on to other areas of the body and therefore chemotherapy (which can attack the cancer cells throughout the body) is often recommended to treat it rather than surgery.
Nine out of 10 cases of are caused by the effects of tobacco smoking - and while people are living longer with lung cancer, unfortunately the majority of cases cannot be cured.
(Many other cancers spread to the lung - these are known as secondary lung cancers and their treatment depends on the original site of the cancer and the type of cells involved.)
Lung cancer symptoms
The key symptom of lung cancer is a persistent cough that gradually gets worse.
If you have the following, or any other symptoms, you must have them checked by your doctor (but remember, all