About lung cancer

4,500

4,500

In Switzerland, around 4,500 people are diagnosed with lung cancer annually, around 3,200 die of it every year. Almost all new patients are over 50 years of age at diagnosis. Deaths caused by lung cancer represent about 19% of all cancer deaths.

2,200,000

2,200,000

Worldwide, about 2.2 million people were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2020, about 1.8 million people died of it. This number represents about 18 % of all deaths due to cancer.

Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

Rund 85% der Lungenkrebsfälle sind NSCLC.

About 85% of lung cancers are NSCLC.

This cancer grows more slowly than small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Nevertheless, by the time about 40% of people are diagnosed, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body outside of the chest. The main subtypes of NSCLC are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

About 15% of lung cancers are SCLC.

About 15% of lung cancers are SCLC.

It is very aggressive and spreads quickly. By the time that most people are diagnosed, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Types and Staging of Lung Cancer

Staging lung cancer is based on whether the cancer is local or has spread from the lungs to the lymph nodes or other organs.

Stages of non-small Cell Lung Cancer
Stage I

Stage I

The tumor is 3 cm or less across, affects the main branches of the bronchi and has not spread beyond the lungs.

5-year survival rate
63%

Stage II

Stage II

The tumor is 5 cm or less across and has spread to nearby lymph nodes. Alternatively, there may be more than one separate tumor module present.

5-year survival rate
63%

Stage III

Stage III

The tumor is 5 to 7 cm and has spread to the lymph nodes. It may also have spread to surrounding areas. Two or more separate tumors are present in different lobes of the lung.

5-year survival rate
35%

Stage IV

Stage IV

The tumor in the lung can be any size and has spread to distant organs within the body. This is the most advanced stage of lung cancer.

5-year survival rate
7%

Stages of Small Cell Lung Cancer

Limited stage:

The tumor is only on one side of the chest and only parts of the lung and the neighboring lymph nodes are affected.

 

Extensive stage:

The tumor has spread to both lungs, to other regions of the chest or to other parts of the body.

Symptoms

Most cases of lung cancer are not found until they have reached an advanced stage. This is in part because signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically only occur when the disease has spread to other parts of the body. The most common symptoms include:

  • Ongoing or worsening cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
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Risk factors

Risk factors

Description

While smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer by far, others include:

  • exposure to secondhand smoke
  • radon
  • some workplace substances (i.e., asbestos, arsenic)
  • family history.

 

For smoking cessation support, please visit

Rauchstopplinie
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Prevention

Prevention

Description

The most important way to prevent lung cancer is to avoid tobacco smoke.

People who smoke can reduce their risk by stopping smoking, but their risk of lung cancer will still be higher than people who never smoked.

Myths & Facts

There are a number of myths around lung cancer; many of which add to the ‘stigma’ of the disease. Click on the flashcards below to see the facts behind the fiction…

Myth

Lung cancer is still a death sentence.

Fact

Over the past decade, scientific advancements have been made in lung cancer care (targeted and immunotherapies), which have led to more survivors and more hope for those facing the disease.

Myth

Lung cancer is only caused by smoking.

Fact

While smoking is the most common risk factor for lung cancer, other external factors can cause the disease. Research has shown that exposure to radon and occupational carcinogens such as asbestos and second-hand smoke can lead to lung cancer. Exposure to outdoor air pollution has also been linked to the disease.

Myth

Only older people get lung cancer.

Fact

While lung cancer is mostly diagnosed in older people it can still occur in younger adults. In 2020, more than 285,000 cases of lung cancer were estimated to be diagnosed among people 54 years and younger.

Myth

Oncologists are the only people that can truly help patients with lung cancer.

Fact

Navigating a lung cancer diagnosis can take a village – including oncologists, family, and friends. Connecting with others can provide a sense of support and comfort during the cancer journey.