About lung cancer

What are the lungs?

The lungs are two organs found in your chest and form part of your respiratory system. This system is responsible for your breathing. The right lung is slightly bigger than the left and contains three areas called lobes. The left lung contains two lobes.

When you breathe in, air passes through your nose or mouth into your trachea (windpipe) and separates into two further tubes (bronchi). Each of these bronchi connects to a lung.

The bronchi divide even further into much smaller tubes called bronchioles. Air passes through these bronchioles and into tiny air sacs called alveoli. In the alveoli, oxygen is absorbed from inhaled air into your bloodstream and is sent around your body.

Oxygen is needed in every cell of your body for various activities. During these activities, the waste gas, carbon dioxide, is made. It passes back through the alveoli and leaves your body when you breathe out.

You can call our Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700 for any further information.

What is lung cancer?

When cancer develops in the lungs, the cells change and grow in an abnormal way. Many lung cancers begin in the wall of the bronchi. As the cancer grows it forms a collection of cells (tumour). This tumour can then cause a blockage and result in symptoms, for example, difficulty in breathing.

How common is lung cancer?

Lung cancer can occur in men and in women. In Ireland it is the fifth most common cancer.

About 2,500 Irish people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. Sadly, more Irish men and women die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer.

Read next: Tests and diagnosis of lung cancer

Date Last Reviewed: 
Tuesday, December 11, 2018