Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer. Around 44,500 people are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK.

There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, but many people with the condition eventually develop symptoms including:

  • a persistent cough
  • coughing up blood
  • persistent breathlessness
  • unexplained tiredness and weight loss
  • an ache or pain when breathing or coughing

You should see your GP if you have these symptoms.

Cancer that spreadsto the lungsfrom another place in the body is known as secondary lung cancer. Thispage is aboutprimary lung cancer.

There are two main types of primary lung cancer.These are classified by the type of cells in which the cancer starts. They are:

  • non-small-cell lung cancer the most common type, accounting for more than 80% of cases; can be eithersquamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma or large-cell carcinoma
  • small-cell lung cancer a less common type thatusually spreadsfaster than non-small-cell lung cancer

The type of lung cancer you have determines which treatments are recommended.

Who's affected

Lung cancer mainly affects older people.It'srare in people younger than 40, and the rates of lung cancer rise sharply with age. Lung cancer is most commonlydiagnosed in people aged 70-74.

Although people who have never smoked can develop lung cancer, smoking is the main cause (accounting for over 85% of cases). This is because smoking involves regularly inhaling a number of different toxic substances.

This means the outlook for the condition isn't as good as manyother types of cancer.

Overall, about 1 in 3 people with the condition live for at least a year after they're diagnosed andabout 1 in20 people live at least10 years.

However, survival rates can vary widely, depending on how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis.Early diagnosis can make a big difference.

Read about living with lung cancer.

How well your local NHS performs

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are NHS organisations that organise the delivery of NHS services in England. They play a major role in achieving good health outcomes for the local population they serve.

You can nowcheck how your local CCG compares against others for lung cancer survival (PDF, 900kb).

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 30 Nov 2016