Our lung cancer patient advisory group told us how hard it can be to get the facts about lung cancer. With lots of information available on the internet, it can be difficult to know what to believe.
These 5 myths and the truth behind them were based on conversations held with patient advisory group members, and written with the support of experts in the field.
If you are aware of a lung cancer myth that we could add to this list please send us details.
I am too young to get lung cancer
Lung cancer is more common in older people (in their 60s and 70s), but it can also occur in people at a much younger age and is diagnosed in people of all ages e.g. carcinoid tumours can affect young people.
Only smokers get lung cancer
Although smoking is the single greatest risk factor for cancer, not all people who develop lung cancer have smoked.
Exposure to second-hand smoke and other substances such as air pollution (including radon gas) increase the risk.
The number of people who have developed lung cancer and not smoked varies in different studies with the figures being 10% in one and 28% in a recent study.
It is only a cough; why should I worry?
The first signs of lung cancer are often a cough that does not go away and shortness of breath. If you have a chronic cough (that lasts for more than 3 weeks) get it checked out.
Molecular testing is not suitable for my type of lung cancer
Molecular testing may help to find out more about the type of lung cancer tumour you have and help decide which treatment is most likely to work for you (such as targeted therapies).
If you have NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer), then molecular testing is most likely to be recommended. Sometimes there is a reason why molecular testing may not be suitable for you so ask your physician to explain if this is the case.
Being diagnosed with lung cancer is a death sentence
Advances in research mean that new treatments are coming along all the time and have helped to increase how long people with cancer live for.
How long an individual person will live depends on many things.
If the cancer is caught early enough it may be curable, and even if it is not curable it is still treatable and with good response rates.