The month of November is Lung Cancer Awareness month across Australia, and this year alone, roughly 11,000 Australians will be or have been diagnosed.


Lung cancer is the fifth most common cancer, accounting for close to 9% of all cancers diagnosed in Australians. 1 in 13 men and 1 in 22 women may be diagnosed before the age of 85, with more it more commonly found in men than in women.




There are a few different types of primary lung cancer, as well as some less common subtypes.

  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) - these account for over 80% of lung cancers and can be classified as:
    • adenocarcinoma - commonly found in outer part of lungs, developing in mucus-producing cells
    • squamous cell carcinoma - commonly develops in larger airways
    • large cell undifferentiated carcinoma
  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) - roughly accounts for 15-20% of lung cancers, starting in the middle of the lungs and spreads quickly.
  • Other tumours starting in the space between the lungs (mediastinum) or chest wall can be:
    • thymus gland tumours, germ cell tumours, tumours of nerve tissue and lymph gland tumours (lymphoma) can arise in this area but aren't strictly lung cancers.
    • Bone, cartilage or muscle tumours, considered primary, can turn up in the chest wall as well, but these are considered rare.
  • Mesothelioma
    • This type of cancer affects the pleura (covering of the lung). Whilst part of the lung, it is different to lung cancer.
    • There are two types:
      • pleural
      • peritoneal
    • In most cases, exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of pleural mesothelioma.



Not all causes of lung cancer are yet fully understand, which is why research continues to be vital. There are however, a number of risk factors that have been identified in developing this disease:

  • tobacco smoking
  • second-hand smoke
  • exposure to asbestos
  • exposure to other elements
  • family history
  • personal history
  • older age



The main symptoms that are experienced by those with lung cancer are:

  • a new cough or change in an ongoing cough
  • breathlessness
  • chest pain
  • repeated bouts of pneumonia or bronchitis
  • coughing or spitting up blood


Where can I find more information?

Cancer Council’s information on Lung Cancer is quite extensive, covering the following areas:


You can also search here on the Online Community, there are many stories and experiences that have been shared by members over the years that may well resonate with you. Alternatively, start a new topic and share your own story or ask questions!


We also have some publications that may assist, available in PDF and Epub formats. EPub are great for loading up on your kindle or other ereading device.

  • Understanding Lung Cancer: in PDF and EPub.
  • Understanding Mesothelioma: in PDF.

If you would like a printed hard copy of the above or any of our other publications, please call 13 11 20.


You may also like to read this Cancer Council blog post about lung cancer screening:


Where can I find support?

You can find a lot of support right here in the Online Community!


Have a look around, maybe use our search up the top to find what you’re looking for, browse through the different forum sections and blogs, start a new topic to share your experiences so far or to ask any burning questions you might have. This is a safe place for you.


If you're newly diagnosed, talking to someone who has been through a similar cancer experience can be incredibly helpful. If you think that speaking to someone one-to-one would be of interest, take a look at our Cancer Connect program. This vital service is provided by our Cancer Connect peer support volunteers. Our Connect volunteers have all recovered from their own cancer experiences and have been specially trained by Cancer Council to provide peer support via the telephone. They are also supported by a team of health professionals, employed by Cancer Council.


Our Telephone Support Groups are a great way to get support by talking over the phone with people in a similar situation. Whilst we do not currently run one specifically for lung cancer, we do have one for people with Advanced Cancer and also one for Carers that may be of interest.


Our Webinars are a fantastic source of support and information, covering a large range of topics. A webinar is an online seminar, which you can watch on your computer or mobile device. There are new ones coming up all the time and you can view all the recordings of past webinars.


We also highly recommend contacting the Lung Foundation Australia, the only national charity dedicated soley to supporting anyone with lung disease. They are an amazing source of information and support for sufferers of lung disease, as well as families, friends and carers.


13 11 20

Please remember that you may contact us on 13 11 20 to ask questions or find out more about anything mentioned here.


The 13 11 20 support and information service is open Monday to Friday during business hours and is staffed by a knowledgeable team of health professionals. 

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