Lung cancer is a malignant tumour (cancer) that happens in the tissue of one or both lungs. We use our lungs to:
- Breathe in air that is then passed into our bloodstream
- Breathe out (exhale) the waste gas called carbon dioxide that needs to leave our body.
The lungs are like two sponges inside your chest, one on the left and one on the right. Lung cancers happen when cells in the lung tissue or lining grow abnormally and multiply, turning into a tumour. A cancer that starts in the cells lining an organ is called a ‘carcinoma’.
There are two main groups of lung cancers and each group stands for the type of cell(s) that make up the tumour. The two groups of lung cancers have different types of linked carcinomas (diseases). The two main groups are:
- Non-small cell carcinomas – that make up about 16 out of every 20 lung cancers.
- Small cell carcinomas – that make up three out of every 20 lung cancers.