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Lung Cancer

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that is located in the respiratory tract, such as in the trachea, the bronchus or the lung tissue.

There are three types of lung cancer:

I) Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

II) Small Cell Lung Cancer

III) Lung Carcinoid Tumor

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer is the most common type of lung cancer.

How Common is Lung Cancer?



Lung cancer is one of the top three cancers in Malaysia overall. It is the second most common cancer for males and the fourth most common cancer in females.

According to the Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report (2007 – 2011), 21.3 cases were diagnosed per 100,000 population. The incidence was highest in Chinese followed by Malay and Indian. Colorectal Cancer mainly affects people who are aged 40 years and above.

What are the Survival Rates?

Lung cancer is one of the most common cause of death in Malaysia (2.2%). The earlier lung cancer is found and treated, the better are the chances for it to be cured.

Currently, lung cancer is often detected at a late stage and chances of survival are reduced.

Therefore, watch out for the signs and symptoms and get it checked as soon as you notice any abnormal changes.

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, see your doctor immediately. It could be nothing but it is better to play it safe. Always check with your doctor.

Signs & Symptoms

Persistent Cough For Several Weeks
Persistent cough for several weeks
Persistent Breathlessness
Persistent breathlessness
Coughing Up Blood
Coughing up blood
Unexplained Tiredness And Weight Loss
Unexplained tiredness and weight loss
Recurrent Chest Infection
Recurrent chest infection
Chest, Shoulder And/or Back Pain When Breathing Or Coughing
Chest, shoulder and/or back pain when breathing or coughing
Hoarse Voice
Hoarse voice

Who is at risk?

Smoking Cigarettes Is The Main Risk Factor For Lung Cancer
Smoking cigarettes is the main risk factor for lung cancer

Tobacco contains toxic substances that are known to be carcinogenic (i.e. they have the potential to cause cancer)

Passive Exposure To Cigarette Smoke (i.e. Being Near People Who Smoke)
Passive exposure to cigarette smoke (i.e. being near people who smoke)
Air Pollution From Vehicles And Factories, Etc
Air pollution from vehicles and factories, etc
Exposure To Radon (radioactive Gas)
Exposure to Radon (radioactive gas)
Exposure To Certain Chemicals, Such As Arsenic, Asbestos, Nickel, Coal Fumes
Exposure to certain chemicals, such as arsenic, asbestos, nickel, coal fumes
Lung Disease, E.g. Tuberculosis
Lung disease, e.g. tuberculosis

How can you reduce your risk?

Stop Smoking As Soon As Possible. After 10 Years Of Quitting, Your Risk Of Lung Cancer Falls By Half, Compared To That Of Smokers
Stop smoking as soon as possible. After 10 years of quitting, your risk of lung cancer falls by half, compared to that of smokers
Healthy Diet (aim To Have A Low-fat And High-fibre Diet, Including At Least 5 Portions Of Fruits And Vegetables Each Day)
Healthy diet (aim to have a low-fat and high-fibre diet, including at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables each day)
Regular Exercise Can Reduce Your Risk Of Lung Cancer (aim For At Least 30 Minutes Of Moderate Physical Activity 5 Times A Week)
Regular exercise can reduce your risk of lung cancer (aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 times a week)

Screening & Diagnosis

Chest X-Ray:

A chest X-Ray is a procedure where a picture of the lungs and airways is taken to check for any abnormalities. This is one of the first tests that will be done if lung cancer is suspected. If an abnormality is detected through the X-Ray, further tests need to be done to diagnose the condition.

CT Scan:

A CT Scan can produce more accurate images of your organs.

PET CT Scan:

This type of scan helps to detect active cancer cells. You will be given an injection before the scan that will help identify any abnormalities.

Bronchoscopy and biopsy:

This type of biopsy is used to take a small sample of cells from your lungs to test for cancer.


There are several treatment options for Lung Cancer. Speak to your doctor to find out the best treatment option for you.

A list of all government hospitals in Malaysia can be found here.

Further information about Lung Cancer can be found under Resources.

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