Lung cancer

The lungs make up a large part of the breathing system, which is also called the respiratory system. Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, and it can start in any part of the lungs or airways. People most at risk of developing lung cancer are those who smoke, with 72% of UK smokers being diagnosed with the disease.

Types of lung cancer

There are two main types of primary lung cancer:

  • small cell lung cancer
  • non-small cell lung cancer

Rutherford Treatment Options

  • Proton Beam Therapy Available
  • Radiotherapy UnAvailable
  • Chemotherapy Available
  • Immunotherapy Available

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

This type of cancer affects 12% of lung cancer cases in the UK. It can spread quite early on and is usually caused by smoking.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
About 87% of lung cancers in the UK are non-small cell lung cancer. The three most common types are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma. They are grouped due to how similar the cells behave and respond to treatment.


Symptoms caused by lung cancer will vary depending on its type and where in the lungs it has occurred. Some people may have symptoms, whereas others may not experience any. Early diagnosis will make treating lung cancer easier, so if you have any of the following symptoms, it is important to see your GP. 

Here are some common symptoms that may be experienced:

  • A change in an existing long-term cough
  • A cough for longer than three weeks
  • A feeling of breathlessness or wheeziness
  • A hoarse voice for more than three weeks
  • Chest or shoulder pain that won’t improve
  • Coughing up blood
  • Regular chest infections
  • Tiredness
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you’d like to speak to us about any of the treatments we offer
please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0800 210 0402 or

Lung cancer diagnosis

If your GP thinks you’re experiencing symptoms as a result of lung cancer, they will arrange for you to have a physical examination and may send you to a specialist for further diagnostics scans and tests. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the better the outcome of treatment will be.

There are several tests and examinations that can help diagnose lung cancer. Some may be carried out with your GP, and then you may be referred to a hospital or specialist for further scans or tests.

Ways lung cancer can be diagnosed:

  • A physical examination carried out by a GP
  • Scans such as CT or Ultrasound
  • A biopsy - taking and testing a tissue sample from the body
  • Bronchoscopy and lung biopsy – a thin, flexible tube that goes through your nose or mouth into your windpipe to examine your lungs. Often used to assist with taking a biopsy.
MRI Diagnosis

Treating lung cancer with proton beam therapy

Treatment for lung cancer will often involve different treatment options, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The earlier it is diagnosed, then surgery or radiotherapy is a viable option, but chemotherapy may also be an option if there is a need to shrink a tumour before surgery. Immunotherapy may also be used if the cancer has spread to other parts or outside the lungs.

Proton beam therapy can be used to treat lung cancer, usually before or after surgery, or following chemotherapy. The using proton beam therapy will aim to shrink a tumour before removal, or after surgery, to kill any remaining local cancer cells that may have been left behind. A consultant oncologist at the Rutherford will be able to discuss with you if your case of lung cancer will benefit from proton beam therapy.

The benefits of using proton beam therapy treatment for lung cancer

As lung cancer can be situated near other parts of the body and vital organs, proton beam therapy can be an effective treatment choice, as it will deliver minimal radiation dose to healthy tissues surrounding the tumour or cancer cells that should be avoided, while precisely targeting the cancer.

Sensitive areas near the lungs may include:

  • Other parts of the lungs and respiratory system
  • Heart
  • Oesophagus

An overview of how proton beam therapy works

Proton beam therapy is highly accurate in targeting a treatment area. It can be used to treat hard-to-reach tumours, while lowering radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue and vital organs.

Watch the video

Other treatment options for lung cancer

There are other treatment options that can be used to treat lung cancer, either before, after or alongside proton beam therapy. Please see other treatment options available at the Rutherford Cancer Centres below:





Further information & support

Being diagnosed with lung cancer and deciding on the best treatment can be daunting, for full details on lung treatment options or to discuss a diagnosis, please contact our enquiries team. Our enquiries team will endeavour to help you assess your treatment options and advise which consultants could be best placed to plan your treatment pathway.

Macmillan Cancer Support offers a wide range of information and support, as well as help with your practical, emotional, and financial needs. All telephone helplines are free and confidential, and interpreting services are also available.

Freephone: 0808 808 00 00

(Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 8.00pm)


Get in Touch

If you'd like to speak to us about any of the treatments we offer please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0800 210 0402 or

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