Lung cancer

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer. More than 43,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK.

Who is at risk of lung cancer?

Lung cancer mainly affects older people. It’s rare in people younger than 40. 

Although people who have never smoked can develop lung cancer, smoking is the most common cause. This is because smoking involves regularly inhaling a number of different toxic substances.

Symptoms of lung cancer

Common symptoms

  • A cough that lasts longer than 3 weeks
  • Chest infections that keep coming back
  • Coughing up blood
  • An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • Constant breathlessness
  • Tiredness or lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss

Less common symptoms

  • Difficulty or pain when swallowig
  • Wheezing
  • A hoarse voice
  • Changes in the appearance of your fingers (becoming more curved or the ends getting larger)
  • Swelling of the face or neck
  • Persistent chest or shoulder pain

Non-urgent advice:

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should contact your GP.

Your GP appointment

Before your appointment

In order to get the most out of your appointment, you should come prepared with the following information:

  • Write down your symptoms including when they started, when they happen and how often you have them.
  • Write down anything that makes them worse or better.
  • Any family history of cancer

During your appointment

Your doctor will start by asking you questions relating to your symptoms and medical history. They may also:

  • Examine you. You may ask for a chaperone to be present for this. In the examination they might feel your lymph nodes (glands) in your neck and under your arms. They might listen to your chest by putting a stethoscope on your chest and back.
  • Check your heart rate and blood pressure
  • Take your temperature
  • Record your height and weight

After your appointment

Your doctor may arrange for you to have blood tests. These might be done at your surgery or at a hospital.

Depending on your symptoms, your GP can arrange some hospital tests, such as an x-ray.

Depending on your symptoms and test results, your doctor might refer you to a specialist.

Lung cancer screening

Screening for lung cancer detection is in its early stages. It is gradually being rolled out through North-West London, including Hounslow, for people aged 55-74 who have ever smoked.