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Lung cancer – the facts

Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer worldwide and sadly it often has very poor outcomes due to the fact that it is often diagnosed when it is already at an advanced stage. Lung cancer often doesn’t have any symptoms, but some people may present with a persistent cough (more than 3 weeks), losing weight or getting more breathless, feeling tired and/ or chest pain. If you are worried about any of these things, especially if you are or have been a smoker then it is important to get checked out. It is important to try to pick up lung cancer early to have the best chance of being able to treat it aggressively, but even if the diagnosis comes late then there are often still treatment options available and increasingly there are more newer therapies that can significantly improve prognosis.

How we can diagnose and treat lung cancer

The diagnostic process may involve a variety of different tests and we will try to make the process as smooth as possible for you. Usually the first step would be to meet your respiratory consultant and discuss your case. The starting point for most pathways will be a CT scan of your chest which can give us a lot of information, however to fully “prove” that there is a cancer present a biopsy is needed. A biopsy means that you sample a small part of the tumour and this can be achieved by a variety of different techniques. Including CT guided and endoscopically (using a flexible telescope system inserted into the airway – please see our EBUS and bronchoscopy pages. Your respiratory consultant will talk through which investigations are most suitable for you. Once a biopsy is obtained this will confirm the diagnosis, be able to tell us which sort of cancer is present and then also help to guide treatment. As we now have access to more advanced and targeted therapies the information from the biopsy is increasingly important.

As a respiratory team our job is to diagnose, or exclude, lung cancer and make sure that we get all the information about the type and stage (how advanced is) the cancer. We pride ourselves in working as an MDT and by sharing our expertise we can ensure that if you do have cancer you have access to the best possible care for you.