Living with Lung Cancer

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Contents

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Never delay seeking advice or dialling emergency services because of something that you have read on HealthUnlocked.

Diagnosis

You are not alone

Lung cancer is the world’s most common cancer1. In the UK, around 46,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year2. While smokers and ex-smokers have an increased risk of getting lung cancer, one in seven people diagnosed each year have never smoked3. Apart from tobacco smoke, exposure to various industrial chemicals, asbestos, radon gas and diesel exhaust fumes can all increase lung cancer risk3.

The most common form is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). About 85 in every 100 people with lung cancer have non-small cell cancer4. Most of the rest have small cell lung cancer (SCLC); a tiny proportion of people will have one of several much rarer types of lung cancer4.

Read about the different types of lung cancer at the Roy Castle Foundation website.

Your own cancer

Whether your cancer has just been diagnosed or you’ve been living with it for some time, it’s worth understanding as much as you can about your particular cancer – the knowledge will help you with decisions around your treatment and future plans.

Reactions to a lung cancer diagnosis vary and there is no right or wrong way to react. Some people are shocked, some feel angry, helpless, hopeless, or even guilty. But having the diagnosis means treatment will start and you have the chance to get the best out of life despite the illness.

Watch this video to see how some people handled news of their diagnosis:

Remember that your cancer is unique to you – statistics showing survival rates of 1 in 3 after a year, 1 in 20 after 10 years, and so on, can make depressing reading. But the figures are averages and the outlook for individuals can vary widely; early diagnosis can make a big difference.

The individuality of your cancer also means you may be offered, or opt for, treatment that’s different from someone else’s even though their cancer has some aspects in common to yours in terms of its stage, size, position and so forth. To be able to make decisions about treatment with confidence, it helps to understand as much as possible about your specific diagnosis. It’s important to ask your medical team about things that aren’t clear to you.

Information online

Many people do a great deal of research online. But take care out there – the internet is awash with inaccurate or misleading information, so you need to be sure that what you are reading is reliable. Your medical team might suggest suitable websites. For trusted information, try:

Look also for sites displaying an Information Standard or Health on the Net logo:

They are certified for giving information that is accurate, evidence-based and kept up to date.

Non-UK websites: Many non-UK websites offer excellent information about lung cancer and the latest developments. But bear in mind that health systems and treatment regimes differ, so some of what you read on foreign websites may not apply in the UK.

Diagnosis ‘blur’ – then the next 20 years

Terry Kavanagh’s reaction to being told he had lung cancer was: ‘That’s it – I’ve had it’. He recalls the diagnosis as a ‘blur’. But after successful treatment he was still going strong 20 years later. He has taken to patient advocacy and fundraising, gained new qualifications and carved out a career as a counsellor. ‘I see cancer for the tremendous positive contribution it has had on my life,’ he says. ‘But, of course, I wouldn’t want it to find me again.’

Read Terry’s story on the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation website.

Keep up to date

Lung cancer is a fast-moving world with continual research and development of new treatments, medicines and techniques. To keep up with the latest news on lung cancer, try websites with news services, such as:

Finally, if you aren’t a confident internet user, there are free, easy-to-follow ‘get online’ courses at Learn My Way

Content on HealthUnlocked does not replace the relationship between you and doctors or other healthcare professionals nor the advice you receive from them.

Never delay seeking advice or dialling emergency services because of something that you have read on HealthUnlocked.