Our lung cancer researchers focuses on:
Lung cancer is the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of lung cells. This is caused by changes to their genetic material. Different types of lung cancers arise from different cell types within the lung. The process by which this occurs is poorly understood.
Most lung cancer types are classified by their microscopic appearance. These include:
Other types of cancer can also occur in the lung. Some of these are rare types of cancer that arise from lung tissue.
Of lung cancers in Australia:
Cancer cells from other organs can also spread (metastasise) to the lung.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that starts in the lining of the chest and spreads into the lungs. Exposure to asbestos is strongly linked to mesothelioma. For more information about mesothelioma, please visit Cancer Council Victoria.
The treatment and outlook for lung cancer depends on the type of cancer, and how far the cancer cells have spread. Lung cancers may be:
Most cases of lung cancer in Australia are detected at later, harder-to-treat stages.
Lung cancer occurs because of genetic changes in lung cells. These occur more frequently in people exposed to DNA-damaging agents such as tobacco smoke.
People who have smoked are 10 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers. Lung cancer is often associated with smoking (tobacco), however 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men diagnosed with lung cancer have no history of smoking. People who have never smoked tend to develop adenocarcinoma.
Specific cancer-promoting genetic changes have been discovered in adenocarcinomas in non-smokers. Understanding the genes that drive lung cancer growth and spread is allowing new treatments to be designed that can be matched to the genetic changes found in a patient’s lung cancer cells.
Treatment for lung cancer depends on the type of lung cancer and how far the cancer cells have spread. Currently, most lung cancers are only discovered when they have spread beyond the lungs, which reduces the likelihood of treatment curing the disease.
Lung cancers that are small and confined to one section of a lung can often be successfully removed by surgery.
Lung cancers are often treated with:
WEHI researchers are not able to provide specific medical advice specific to individuals. If you have lung cancer and wish to find out more information about clinical trials, please visit the Australian Cancer Trials or the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, or consult your medical specialist.