Overview

Learning that you or someone you care for has lung cancer can be a very overwhelming and frightening experience. From initial diagnosis through to cure or relapse, our Epworth care team are here to support you and your family at every step of your cancer care journey.

Each person living with lung cancer has individual needs depending on their symptoms, condition, and the stage of their cancer. Therefore, our team will proactively adjust the level of emotional and physical care provided to best suit your changing care needs and provide further options of support such as physiotherapy, dietitians, and psychologists.

  • What is lung cancer?

    Lung cancer is when cancerous cells (such as tumours) begin to grow in the in one or both lungs in an uncontrolled way.

  • What are the types of lung cancer?

    There are two main types of lung cancer:

    • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
      Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer accounting for around 85% of cases. There are three subtypes of NSCLC: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and large cell undifferentiated carcinoma. All three subtype cancers start in different areas of the lung.
    • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
      Small cell lung cancer typically grows in the middle of the lungs, and though it is rare in comparison to non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer can spread quickly.
  • What are the risk factors for lung cancer?

    Factors that may put you at higher risk of developing lung cancer include:

    • Smoking (includes second-hand smoking)
    • Family history of lung cancer
    • History of lung disease such as lung fibrosis or emphysema
    • Older age
    • Being overweight
    • Exposure to asbestos

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer

If you have noticed a change to your health, book a consultation with our Epworth specialists today. Catching cancer quickly can save your life.

Symptoms and signs

It's natural and common for changes to occur to your body as you age or go through stressful periods. However, we encourage you to recognise what is normal for your body and if you have persistent concerns, consult an Epworth specialist for peace of mind.

Symptoms can be subtle or easily attributed to other causes but finding cancer early is crucial. Please remember that it is a myth that lung cancer only affects smokers or ex-smokers. Lung cancer can impact the lives of anyone.

Below are some broad symptoms that should prompt you to consult an Epworth specialist.

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • A chest infection that does not go away or keeps coming back
  • Changes to your voice such as hoarseness
  • Coughing or spiting up blood
  • Chest infections that linger or keep coming back
Lung cancer

Notice changes and act quickly 

There are no screening tests for lung cancer. If you have noticed changes to your health we encourage you to consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Diagnosing lung cancer

Screening for lung cancer

Unfortunately, there is currently no screening test for lung cancer.

How is lung cancer diagnosed?

Epworth provides you with access to several thorough diagnostic tests to further investigate signs and symptoms of lung cancer.

To investigate your health concerns, your GP, oncologist, or pulmonologist may schedule one or several of the following lung cancer diagnostic tests:

Lung function tests

During an initial consultation or check-up with your doctor, they may ask you to take a lung function test (spirometry). A lung function test is a breathing test and is an easy way of measuring the capacity and function of your lungs.

Imaging tests

Depending on symptoms, your doctor and care team may schedule imaging tests to assess or diagnose your cancer. Each imaging test provides your care team with a different view of your body, some common scans for lung cancer include a chest X-ray or CT scan.

Biopsy

A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue that will be examined under a microscope. Your doctor may request that you undergo a biopsy following a CT scan which demonstrates further investigation is needed.

Sputum cytology

Mucus from your lungs (that you cough out) will be examined under a microscope to check for abnormal cells.

Staging - Investigating the extent of the cancer

Diagnostic tests will allow your care team to establish your cancer as stage 1 to 4. Staging helps your care team and specialists to create a unique treatment plan.

What does my cancer stage mean?

Stage 1

Early cancer where the tumour is relatively small and the cancer has not yet spread to other tissue.

Stage 2

Cancerous tumour remains relatively localised but has spread to nearby tissue beyond its origin.

Stage 3

Cancer has spread regionally and affected surrounding tissue, and may have grown.

Stage 4

Sometimes called advanced cancer, stage 4 means cancer has spread to other tissue or organs beyond the region where it originated.

Lung cancer

Receive a second opinion from an Epworth specialist

We understand a cancer diagnosis is overwhelming and the number of decisions you must make can be daunting. If you’ve received a lung cancer and would like a second opinion before you undergo treatment, book a consultation with an Epworth specialist.


Treatment for lung cancer

We understand that treatment options can be overwhelming. Epworth oncologists and specialists are here to guide and support you to make the best choice for your health.

Lung cancer treatment at Epworth

Following a diagnosis of lung cancer, your oncologist and cancer care team will create a treatment plan tailored to the specific stage and type of cancer. Your Epworth specialist will discuss the treatment options with you and consider your circumstances and your preferences.

Below is an overview of common lung cancer treatments:

Surgery

Depending on the stage of your lung cancer and where the tumours are, your care team may recommend lung cancer surgery where part of the lung is removed or an entire lung is removed.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a common form of treatment that involves the use of anti-cancer drugs to attack cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often used alongside other treatments such as surgery or radiotherapy.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy uses specific drugs to stimulate the body’s immune system and can be used to treat some types of lung cancer.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is the use of radiation to treat and manage cancer and may be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment. Radiotherapy at Epworth is supported by the latest world-class technology and evidence-based techniques, highly experienced team of radiation oncologists, radiation therapists, physicists and nurses are committed to providing compassionate and exceptional care.

Why choose Epworth for cancer care?

Epworth HealthCare is Victoria's largest not-for-profit private hospital group. renowned for excellence in diagnosis, treatment, care and rehabilitation. Epworth is an innovator in Australia’s health system, embracing the latest in evidence-based medicine to pioneer treatments and services for our patients.

Supported by excellent facilities, we integrate clinical practice with education and research to deliver outstanding patient care, each and every day.

Treatment locations

Epworth care locations

Epworth offers comprehensive cancer services at all four major hospitals: Epworth Eastern, Epworth Freemasons, Epworth Geelong and Epworth Richmond. This includes specialist wards, day oncology facilities, radiation oncology and palliative care.
Lung cancer

Epworth Rehabilitation 

If you've recently been diagnosed with cancer or are already in your cancer treatment journey, we highly recommend that you participate in our holistic oncology rehabilitation program. Epworth offers patients programs to support your wellbeing before, during and after treatment.

Lung cancer rehabilitation

Rehabilitation doesn't just start after your treatment has ended. You may benefit from our holistic rehabilitation programs at any time throughout your cancer journey. Our programs support you to physically and emotionally prepare for treatment or restore your strength and wellbeing.

Who is the program for?

Our cancer rehabilitation program is designed for anyone diagnosed with lung cancer at any time from diagnosis to treatment and recovery.

Rehabilitation doesn't just start after your treatment has ended. You may benefit from our holistic rehabilitation programs at any time – to physically and emotionally prepare you for treatment, restore your strength and support your wellbeing at any time throughout.

What does the cancer rehabilitation program involve?

Before you start

You will meet a rehabilitation doctor and allied health team for a medical, psychosocial, and physical assessment.

Everyone's cancer care journey is different. The assessments will help the team understand your specific needs to develop the right program for you. You will work with the team to develop goals to work towards throughout the program.

During the program

Depending on your assessment and individual needs, you may complete your program:

  • as part of a group, with other people, who have been diagnosed with varying cancers
  • on your own

Most people will attend as an outpatient, coming to hospital for a few hours once or twice a week, over several weeks. Some people may need to stay overnight in hospital and complete a program over several consecutive days.

Either way, you will receive the same support from our team to address your physical, functional and emotional needs.

Your program may include:

  • A physical exercise component to help restore movement, strength and fitness
  • An educational component where you will learn about different areas associated with your cancer diagnosis and treatment and how to manage them, including:
    • fatigue
    • pain
    • emotional wellbeing
    • body image and self-esteem
    • work or family challenges
    • relationships
    • late-onset of side effects.

At the end of your program

Our rehabilitation team will keep in touch with your referring doctor and/or treating team throughout the program and our team will keep them informed about your progress.

They will also connect you to local services and support networks so you can leave our program with strength and confidence to live life to your fullest potential.

Who will support me during the rehabilitation program?

Depending on your needs, you may see some or all of our multidisciplinary team which includes:

  • Rehabilitation specialist doctor
  • Cancer nurse 
  • Exercise physiologist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Psychologist
  • Social worker
  • Occupational therapist
  • Dietician.

How can I access a rehabilitation program?

Referrals

A referral from your specialist or GP is required to participate.

Ask your doctor to complete the referral form at www.epworth.org.au/rehab and return it to us via fax: 03 9982 6696 or email: [email protected]

Locations

Group programs are located at Epworth Camberwell and Epworth Hawthorn.

Individual programs can be accessed at Epworth Brighton, Epworth Camberwell, Epworth Geelong, Epworth Hawthorn or Epworth Richmond Rehabilitation.

Contact us

If you have any questions about our cancer rehabilitation programs, call us on: 1300 345 600.


Life after lung cancer

Life after lung cancer treatment can pose its own challenges but our Epworth specialists are here to support you.

Life after treatment

Life after lung cancer treatment can be a mixture of emotions. You may not 'bounce back' as quickly as you like, but be kind to yourself and start making plans with your family or carers.

Remember that:

  • You may still feel fatigued for a while after finishing treatment.
  • If required, make an advanced care plan.
  • Ask for help. If your body has changed due to treatment, remember help is out there to support you to feel your best and regain your sense of identity and self-esteem. Speak with your care team about options to support your general wellbeing after treatment.

Follow-up appointments

Epworth patients in remission for lung cancer will likely need follow-up appointments to ensure abnormal cells have not returned and to check in on your overall wellbeing.

Managing your health and wellbeing ongoing

Knowing how to best manage your wellbeing ongoing is an essential step toward recovery. We encourage people who have been living with lung cancer to reach out to groups such as Lung Foundation Australia for ongoing support services.

Palliative care

Palliative care may be discussed with you and your family in some cases. Epworth palliative care aims to relieve you of symptoms and manage pain.