Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the lung grow in an uncontrolled way. The cancer often spreads (metastasises) in tumours to other parts of the body before it can be detected in the lungs. These tumours can affect how the lungs usually work, which is to supply oxygen to the body through the bloodstream and remove carbon dioxide from the body.
Although lung cancer can develop in any part of the lung, most lung cancers begin in the cells that line these air passages (bronchi) and the airway branches (alveoli or bronchioles) in the lung.
Lung cancer cells that remain within the lungs are classed as non-invasive lung cancer. When the tumour invades normal tissues in the lung, the tumour is considered to be malignant. The cells can also invade and multiply in nearby parts of the body, such as the chest wall or diaphragm, obtaining a new blood supply to continue tumour growth.
Lung cancer is one of the ten most common cancers in both men and women in Australia.
There is not a direct cause related to development of lung cancer however there are certain types of risks and factors that can heighten the chance.
Factors that are associated with a higher risk of developing lung cancer include:
Many conditions can cause similar symptoms as lung cancer. We recommend consulting with your doctor if you have or develop any of the below symptoms:
It’s important to note that even if you have never smoked, you can develop lung cancer. Environmental and occupational factors are the second highest cause of lung cancer. This can include exposure to air pollution as well as occupational exposures of asbestos, radon, diesel exhaust and silica.
Tests are conducted to help determine what stage of lung cancer a patient is at and if it has spread to other parts of the body. Knowing the stage of the disease helps determine which treatment is best.
Non–small cell lung cancer is divided into six stages, depending on whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body:
Small cell lung cancer is divided into two stages for the purposes of treatment:
The staging system used for non–small cell lung cancer is increasingly being used for small cell lung cancer.
Tests to determine the stage of lung cancer can include:
Treatment for lung cancer depends on the stage at the time of diagnosis. This includes the size of the tumour and if the tumour has spread in the lung, the type of lung cancer, cancer gene mutations and the overall health of the patient.
Treatment can include surgery to remove part or the whole lobe of the lung, the entire lung or part of the lung airway (bronchus). Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are also treatment options for patients.
An emerging body of research is indicating that knowing a tumour’s genomic profile could be more important for successful treatment than knowing its location or size. As each tumour’s genomic profile is unique, this approach is often referred to as personalised or precision medicine.
Treatment for lung cancer does depend on the stage of the cancer, the patient’s breathing capacity and general health. In most cases surgical removal of a tumour offers the best chance of a cure for patients who have early-stage lung cancer.
Treatment for lung cancer can also depend on the type of lung cancer. Non-small cell carcinoma is best treated with surgery if possible. Small cell carcinoma is usually treated with chemotherapy.
ACRF is committed to backing the brilliant ideas needed to find new ways to prevent, detect and treat all types of cancer, so that we can reach our vision of a world without this devastating disease.
ACRF awarded a $1 million grant in 2015 to The University of Queensland (UQ) Thoracic Research Centre and The Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane to help establish The ACRF Centre for Lung Cancer Early Detection. The Centre focuses on the discovery and development of innovative methods for early-stage detection of lung cancer.
ACRF awarded a $2 million grant in 2021 to help establish the The ACRF Lung Cancer Screening Centre of Excellence (LUSCE) at The University of Queensland Thoracic Research Centre. The world-first mobile lung cancer multiplatform research facility focused on early detection research for lung cancer – the leading cause of cancer deaths globally.
By donating to ACRF, you are helping to provide scientists with the tools, technology and infrastructure they need to accelerate cancer research. Click here to see donation options or to make a donation today.