Lung cancer is a malignant tumour in the tissue of one or both of the lungs.
Some people have primary cancer that started in the lungs. Others have cancer that started somewhere else in the body and spread to the lungs (secondary cancer or metastasis).
There are several types of lung cancer, which are classified according to the type of cell affected.
Makes up 75–80% of lung cancers. It mainly affects the cells that line the tubes into the lungs (bronchi) and smaller airways.
NSCLC is classified as:
Makes up 15–20% of lung cancers. SCLC tends to start in the middle of the lungs, and it usually spreads early. Cancers are named for the way the cells appear when viewed under a microscope.
A rare type of cancer that affects the protective membrane around the body’s internal organs (the mesothelium). Mesothelioma usually affects the pleural membranes around the lungs, but it can also occur in the lining of the abdomen or around the heart.
Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral used in some building materials. In most cases, the development of mesothelioma occurs 25–50 years after asbestos exposure.
For further information and advice, call the Cancer Helpline on 13 11 20
Last Reviewed: 01 July 2010