Lung cancer information for patients

Diagnosing and treating lung cancer

Cancer

  • Guy's Hospital

    Medical oncology clinic
    Ground floor, Tabard Annexe
    Great Maze Pond
    London SE1 9RT

    Tel: 020 7188 4242

  • St Thomas' Hospital

    Clinical oncology
    Lower ground floor, Lambeth Wing
    Westminster Bridge Road
    London SE1 7EH

    Tel: 020 7188 1460

Contacting us out of hours

For out of hours advice, please contact 020 7188 7188 and ask for 'operator' or press 0. Then ask the operator for the oncology registrar on call.

Symptoms

If your GP thinks your symptoms may be due to lung cancer, you will be given an appointment to see one of our specialists within two weeks.

It is important to remember that these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer. However, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should see your GP who may refer you for further investigation

  • Symptoms of lung cancer

    The symptoms of lung cancer can include:

    • a persistent or worsening cough
    • coughing up phlegm that has blood in it
    • repeated chest infections that do not respond to antibiotics
    • facial and/or neck swelling
    • breathlessness
    • pain on coughing or breathing
    • a hoarse voice
    • loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
    • extreme tiredness or fatigue.

About your appointment

Please check your appointment letter carefully as we have clinics at both hospitals.  

Please make sure you bring a list of any medicines that you take. You may also want to bring a friend or relative with you, to help you remember the information you are given. If you have any questions, write them down and bring them with you.

  • Cancelling or changing your appointment

    If you need to cancel or change your appointment, please tell us as soon as possible using the numbers at the top of this page, so we can offer your appointment to another patient.

  • At your appointment

    You will see a specialist who will ask you about your general health. We will take a chest x-ray to check for abnormalities in your lungs, eg inflammation, infection, scarring or growths. You may also be asked to give samples of phlegm (sputum) and you may have other tests or investigations. These will be explained to you, but may include:

    • lung function tests - to establish how well your lungs are working
    • sputum sample - to see if you have any infection or blood present
    • blood test - to help us find out about your general health
    • bronchoscopy -  to allow the doctor to examine, photograph, and when possible take a small biopsy of tissue from inside the lungs/airways
    • endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) - similar to a bronchoscopy, but uses ultrasound to sample lymph nodes
    • CT scan - this type of scan gives a 3D picture of your body's organs
    • PET/CT scan - this type of scan gives pictures showing where there is active cancer throughout the body
    • percutaneous lung biopsy - done through the skin, under local anaesthetic using CT or ultrasound scanning to identify the most useful area to take a biopsy sample from
    • mediastinoscopy - this is a surgical procedure for examining lymph nodes under the breast bone. This test involves a general anaesthetic and a short stay in hospital.

After your appointment

After every outpatient appointment, your doctor will write a letter to your GP to keep them informed of your care. Please ask the doctor or nurse if you would like a copy of this letter.

  • If you need treatment

    Treatment for lung cancer will usually consist of surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, or a combination of these, all of which can be carried out at Guys' and St Thomas'.

    We are always trying to further develop the treatment of lung cancer. Your consultant may invite you to be part of a study or clinical trial. If so, your consultant will give you full details about the clinical trial. There will be plenty of time to talk about it with your doctors.

    If you need to stay in hospital, your doctors will try to get you a bed in either Samaritan or Hedley Atkins ward, which are our cancer wards at Guy's Hospital. 

    After your course of treatment finishes, the doctors and nurses will see you regularly to monitor your progress. Follow-up appointments will be at Guy's, St Thomas' or your local hospital.

Lung cancer support

If you are diagnosed with lung cancer or mesothelioma, there are lung cancer nurse specialists who are available to provide you and your loved ones with advice, information and support throughout your treatment.