Understanding lung cancer

At Icon Cancer Centre Hong Kong we offer evidence-based testing and treatment for a range of cancers.

Our experienced team of clinical oncologists are dedicated to delivering personalised care and supporting you through your diagnosis, treatment, and beyond.

Understanding lung cancer

If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, it’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of new information people are sharing with you.

Knowing more about your cancer and what to expect before and after treatment can help you prepare. The following information outlines what your cancer is and how it is diagnosed and treated.

We encourage you to speak to your doctor and care team, who are here to support you throughout your time at Icon.

We will always have time to talk to you and answer your questions.

About lung cancer

Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably in the tissue of one or both lungs, forming a cancerous tumour.

There are two types of lung cancer:

  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

Lung cancer can be described in stages depending on how early or advanced the cancer is. These include:

  • Stage 0 – The cancer is at the earliest stage. It has not invaded deeper into other lung tissues or spread beyond the lungs.
  • Stage I – The tumour is 5 cm or less across, affects the main branches of the bronchi and has not spread beyond the lungs.
  • Stage II – The tumour is 7 cm or less across, affects the main branches of the bronchi and has spread to nearby lymph nodes. Alternatively, there may be more than one separate tumour nodule present in the same lobe of a lung and cancer may have spread to surrounding areas, but not to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage III – The tumour can be any size and has spread to the lymph nodes. It may also have spread to surrounding areas. Two or more separate tumours are present in different lobes of the same lung.
  • Stage IV – The tumour in the lung can be any size and has spread to distant organs within the body.


Lung cancer diagnosis involves a number of tests. You may undergo a bronchoscopy, which allows the doctors to look directly into your lungs; a mediastinoscopy, where a tube is inserted through your neck and down the outside of your trachea so the mediastinum (area between the lungs) can be inspected; or a lung biopsy, which involves removing tissue from the tumour to examine.

Further tests may also be required, often to see if the cancer has spread beyond the lungs. These include a CT scan and Virtual Bronchoscopy, Ultrasound, PET scan or MRI scan.


Treatment for lung cancer depends on the type that you have, and your age, medical history and treatment preferences. Options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy.

Common questions

It’s natural to want to know more about your cancer when first diagnosed. We’ve included some common questions that patients ask about lung cancer to help you. Your treatment team at Icon can also answer any additional questions that you have at any point in time.

What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

Common symptoms of lung cancer include a cough that doesn’t go away; shortness of breath; coughing up blood; chest pain that worsens with deep breathing, coughing or laughing; loss of appetite and weight loss.

What causes lung cancer?

Certain risk factors can play a role in the development of lung cancer. These include:

  • Smoking – Cigarette smoking carries a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer when compared with non-smokers
  • Exposure to second hand smoke – There is an increased risk for non-smoking people who breath in the cigarette smoke of others
  • Chemical elements – Exposure to asbestos, uranium, chrome, vinyl chloride, radiation and radon gas is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer
  • Personal or family history – A person who has had silicosis, lung cancer or one or more family members with lung cancer may have a higher risk of developing lung cancer
  • Age – People aged 50 or above have a higher risk of developing lung cancer

Making an appointment

Find out how to make an appointment at Icon Cancer Centre, or request more information from your nearest centre.
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Care team

Every member of Icon’s team is here to help. Here are some of the team members you may meet and how they will be involved in your treatment.
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Our doctors

Icon brings together a strong and prominent team of clinical oncologists.
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