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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that forms inside your lungs. Like all organs, your lungs are made of cells. Sometimes something goes wrong with the cells and they multiply uncontrollably. This is called cancer.

Lung cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in New Zealand. About 2,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with lung cancer each year.

Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer. The best way to reduce the number of people getting lung cancer is to reduce the number of people who smoke.

Some people who develop lung cancer have not smoked. They may have worked with asbestos, nickel or chromium, or may have been exposed to second-hand smoke.

Symptoms of lung cancer

  • A cough that lasts longer than a few weeks.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Chest or shoulder pain.
  • Unintentional weight loss.


If you have any of the symptoms above or you're worried you might have lung cancer, speak to your doctor, who can help you and arrange further tests if necessary.

Types of lung cancer

Not all lung cancers are the same. Some types are more serious than others or more likely to get worse. They may also need different types of treatment.

The main types of lung cancer are:

Preventing lung cancer

The best way to prevent getting lung cancer is not to smoke. If you do smoke, there are many ways to quit. If you would like to know more about quitting smoking, talk to your doctor or see How to become smokefree.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Diagnosing and treating lung cancer

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2021.

See also:


How to become smokefree


Page reference: 282689

Review key: HILUC-282689