Lung Cancer

There are two main types of lung cancer that are commonly diagnosed:

  1. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – most common type of lung cancer, grows and spreads less rapidly than small cell lung cancer. There are three types – squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
  2. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) – less common type of lung cancer, grows more rapidly and is more likely to spread to other organs in the body.

There are several factors that are known to increase the risk of lung cancer, including:

  • Smoking and exposure to second hand smoke
  • Exposure to asbestos
  • Exposure to or history of tuberculosis

The symptoms of lung cancer are relatively identifiable. The main symptoms are:

  • New dry cough or change in a chronic cough
  • Chest pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Coughing or spitting up blood
  • Repeated bouts of pneumonia or bronchitis


The two main types of lung cancer are treated quite differently.

  1. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) - surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can all be used
  2. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) - chemotherapy and radiotherapy are usually used

External Beam Radiotherapy for Lung Cancer

The treatment of lung cancer is routinely done with external beam radiotherapy. Treatment plans for these patient treatments are configured in such a way so as to converge on the targetted tumour volume while minimising dose to surrounding normal tissue and organs such as the heart, spinal cord and healthy lung.

Lung cancer treated with precise high-dose radiation

Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) for lung cancer, similar to stereotactic radiosurgery in the brain and spine, focuses high doses of radiation with extreme precision to treat cancerous tumours in just three to five sessions.

Using multiple radiation beams that converge on the target area, Adelaide Radiotherapy Centre (ARC) Radiation Oncologists are able to safely deliver high doses of radiation with very sharp dose gradients to avoid damaging the surrounding healthy tissue.

How SABR differs from conventional radiation therapy

With conventional therapy, radiation is delivered in relatively small doses over a course of several weeks, with patients receiving daily treatments during that time. With SABR, Radiation Oncologists are able to deliver a greater combined dose of radiation over the course of far fewer treatments. SABR has shown dramatically better outcomes than conventional radiotherapy. Whereas two year success rates for conventional treatment ranges from 30-40 precent, the success rates for SABR range from 80-90 precent - comparable to those of surgery but with far fewer risks. Find out more information by referring to our SABR patient information brochure.

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