Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. There are often no symptoms in the early stages. 

A screening programme called Targeted Lung Health Checks aims to pick up lung cancer and other lung conditions earlier. It is offered to:

  • People aged 55 to 74 who have ever smoked, and 
  • Live in areas with high rates of lung cancer including many parts of Cheshire and Merseyside

If you are invited to have a Targeted Lung Health Check, we would encourage you to do it. 

About lung cancer

Cancer that begins in the lung is called primary lung cancer. Primary lung cancer develops after a change in the DNA of the cells in the lung. (DNA is the genetic material that tells cells what to do.) As these faulty cells divide and multiply, they eventually cause a cancer. 

Sometimes cancer cells from elsewhere in the body can spread to the lung. This is known as secondary or ‘metastatic’ lung cancer. This page is about primary lung cancer. 

There are two main forms of primary lung cancer: 

  • Non-small-cell lung cancer
  • Small-cell lung cancer

The names describe the type of cells in which the cancer starts growing. 

We also treat mesothelioma, a type of cancer that grows in the lining of the lungs, tummy, heart or testicles. It is often linked to asbestos exposure. 

This is the most common form of lung cancer, accounting for around 80 to 85 out of 100 cases. There are three main types of non-small-cell lung cancer:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma – this develops in the flat cells in your airway
  • Adenocarcinoma – this develops in the gland cells that make mucus in your airway
  • Large-cell carcinoma – named because these cancer cells look larger than most cells

This is less common and usually spreads faster than non-small-cell lung cancer.

There are usually no symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer. Over time, many people symptoms including:

  • Persistent cough (lasting three weeks or more)
  • Coughing up blood
  • Persistent breathlessness 
  • Unexplained tiredness 
  • An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • Chest infections that keep coming back
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss

Less common symptoms can include:

  • Changes in the shape of your fingers – for example, curving or becoming larger at the ends (known as ‘finger clubbing’)
  • Wheezing or a hoarse voice
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Persistent chest or shoulder pain
  • Swelling of your face or neck

It is important to see a health professional if you have symptoms, especially if they last more than a couple of weeks. 

Treatment at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre

When you are diagnosed, your care will be discussed at a multidisciplinary team meeting (MDT) where different specialists will consider your treatment options. Your doctor will discuss this with you so you can decide what is right for you.

Treatment depends on a range of factors including:

  • The type of lung cancer you have
  • The size and position of the cancer
  • How advanced it is (the ‘stage’ of cancer)
  • Your general health 

Treatment options can include one or more of the following:

  • Surgery – this may be before, during or after other treatments
  • Drug therapies such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The general term for these is systemic anti-cancer therapies (SACT)
  • Radiotherapy 

Depending on the type and stage of your lung cancer, you may receive a combination of these treatments.

Genomics is the study of a person’s genes (or ‘genome’) – the material in DNA that makes each person unique. Cancer is caused by changes in the DNA of a cell and tell it to multiply out of control. 

Understanding where this change has occurred – for example, which gene is faulty – can help us know which treatment will give you the best chance of killing the cancer cells and stopping new ones from growing. 

Your clinical team will explain this to you in more detail at your appointment. 

At The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, we provide specialist non-surgical treatment for lung cancer. We also work closely with surgical teams in other hospitals to plan and coordinate your care every step of the way. 

Systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT)

SACT is a term used to describe the different drug therapies for cancer. These include: 

  • Chemotherapy – which aims to kill cancer cells
  • Immunotherapy – which aims to train your immune system to attack cancer 
  • Targeted therapies – which aim to target the DNA and cell changes that cause cancer
  • Total neoadjuvant therapy – where you receive chemotherapy and immunotherapy before surgery


Your doctor and the other specialists in the multi-disciplinary team might recommend radiotherapy as a treatment for lung cancer. This could be in combination with other types of treatment. 

Radiotherapy is a very well established treatment that is delivered by a machine called a linear accelerator (or ‘linac’). Radiotherapy targets the tumour from outside the body with invisible beams of radiation. Each treatment is carefully planned to make sure the tumour gets the right dose of radiation. 

Having radiotherapy does not make you radioactive, and you will not feel anything while the machine is on.

Planning your treatment

Before we plan your treatment, you will have a special type of CT scan. The scan lets us see inside your body so we can look at your cancer and the area around it. This helps us to build a computer model of your body and plan where to target the radiotherapy beam so your tumour gets the right dose of radiation.  

Radiotherapy treatment

We use different types of radiotherapy, depending on the size, location and stage of the cancer. 

The radiotherapy treatments we offer for lung cancer include:

  • Traditional external beam radiotherapy:
    • For non-small cell lung cancer, this is usually given once a day over 20 to 30 sessions (called ‘fractions’).
    • For small cell lung cancer, this is usually given either once or twice a day over about three weeks.
  • Chemoradiation therapy – a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  
  • Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) – this is a way of very precisely targeting radiotherapy to certain cancers. SABR treatment for lung cancer is usually given over three to eight sessions. 
  • Palliative radiotherapy – to help with pain or other symptoms. People usually have between one and 12 sessions, depending on their treatment. 

We have a dedicated mesothelioma clinic at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre – Liverpool. Mesothelioma can affect the lungs and other organs. 

We have a multi-site model where we visit hospitals across Cheshire and Merseyside to provide treatment and consultations closer to patients’ homes. 

We provide systemic anti-cancer therapies (e.g. chemotherapy and immunotherapy) for lung cancer at the following sites:

We provide radiotherapy for lung cancer in our three specialist sites: 

Clinical trials for lung cancer are delivered at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre – Liverpool.

Our team

The team consists of clinical oncologists, medical oncologists, advanced nurse practitioners, an advanced clinical practitioner, clinical nurse specialists, radiographers, medical physicists, pharmacy, research practitioners, administrative support and cancer support workers.  

Our operational management team makes sure the service runs smoothly.

Clinical Oncologists

Dr Manal Alameddine
Dr Mary Anthonypillai
Dr Neeraj Bhalla
Dr David Cobben
Dr Anoop Haridass
Dr Clare Hart
Dr Ehab Ibrahim
Dr Tony Pope

Medical Oncologists

Dr Carles Escriu
Dr Olusola Faluyi
Dr Richard Griffiths
Dr Jonny Heseltine
Dr Matthew Howell
Dr Noor Tariq

Consultant Radiographer

Lynn Bell

Advanced Nurse Practitioner

Sarah Rose

Advanced Clinical Practitioner

Hala Ghoz

Clinical Nurse Specialists

Emma Campbell
Molly Chapman
Claire Clarke
Nicola Lunt
Jo Wilson

Physician Associate

Tim Cook

Cancer Support Workers 

Hayley Sohl
Jo Waters 

Further information

Our Cancer Information and Support Centres can provide individualised help and support for patients and families affected by cancer. The team’s main base is in Clatterbridge Cancer Centre – Liverpool but they also work at our Aintree and Wirral hospitals.

There are also local Macmillan services in other hospitals across our region.