In Poland, lung cancer is the most common malignant tumour in men, and the third most common in women. It is the most frequent cause of tumour-related deaths.

As stated by Professor Jan Skokowski, the President of the Lung Cancer Treatment Association(Stowarzyszenie Walki z Rakiem Płuca), there are over 21 thousand patients per year in Poland. “There are more or less as many deaths caused by lung cancer," he stresses.

This is more than the number of deaths caused by breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer combined.

Smokers are the most susceptible

The majority of lung cancer patients are composed of smokers (including passive smokers). According to the European Code Against Cancer, smoking is responsible for 87–91 percent of lung cancer cases in men and 57–86 percent in women. This means that there are areas in the world, including Poland, where almost all patients are smokers.

Professor Skokowski stresses that in the case of males, we are dealing with incidence stabilisation; men smoke less, and this is reflected in statistics. The trend in women is the opposite – there are more cases since there are more smokers. However, men continue to dominate the statistics with approximately 15 thousand cases per year.


Prof. Skokowski stresses that lung cancer does not have any specific symptoms. The most common one is coughing, and its nature and intensification depend on the advancement of the tumour. The disease often does not display any symptoms.

As suggested by the Lung Cancer Treatment Association, if we want to know if this problem concerns us, we should answer the following questions:

  1. Are you over 40 years old?
  2. Do you smoke?
  3. Are you regularly exposed to inhaling cigarette smoke?
  4. Did anyone in your family have lung cancer?

If you replied yes to three or more questions, you should get tested.

Warning signals are also provided by such symptoms as a different cough, particularly in the case of long-time smokers, blood in expectoration, chest pains, pain near shoulders, pain while breathing, frequent inflammation of upper respiratory tract, breathlessness, unexplained loss of body mass, fatigue, and lack of energy for no apparent reason.

What tests should be made?

The most common test is an X-ray. A computer tomography scan of the chest is made in order to obtain a more precise image.

The diagnosis also requires a bronchoscopy and collection of the diagnostic material is recommended.

“The diagnosis may only be based on a microscope study, it is the only certain method," states Professor Skokowski.

Lung cancer treatment

The treatment may include surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, or a combination of these methods.

Professor Skokowski notes that there are two main types of lung cancer: non-small-cell and small-cell.

The most common form is non-small-cell lung cancer. It is usually removed surgically, but only approximately 15 percent of the patients in Poland are subject to surgery.

“At diagnosis, almost 85 percent of lung cancer cases are inoperable," says Professor Skokowski.

Lung cancer cannot be surgically resected if the tumour has spread to other organs or its location within the lungs prevents the procedure.

Small-cell lung cancer is more sensitive to chemotherapy. The lifespan for such cancer is shorter, since the disease evolves faster.

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