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Lung Cancer

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This page gives you information about our team that specialise in treating lung cancer.

There is information about:

  • Our services
  • How we work out if you have lung cancer
  • The different ways we treat it

Who we are

The Liverpool Lung Cancer Unit was formed in April 2000 to improve services for patients with suspected lung cancer. It's now one of the largest and most experienced diagnostic and treatment centres in the UK – and the largest cancer unit in Merseyside.

Giving you the best of two hospitals. The unit combines facilities and leading cancer experts from two hospitals: the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital (LHCH). The unit has two arms:

  • Outpatient services (LHCH): a rapid access lung clinic to investigate, diagnose and treat patients with suspected lung cancer
  • Inpatient services at the Royal: for patients who have been admitted to hospital and require investigations for suspected lung cancer

What we do

We are the only unit in the region that provides complete lung cancer diagnosis in one week.

A specialist nurse is there for you throughout your treatment journey. The nurse is your key-worker and is available to help you – or your family – with any problems or questions.

Specialists from different medical areas meet weekly. This is called a multi-disciplinary team meeting (MDT) and is central to the way we work. The MDT advise, support and create treatment plans that are personalised for every patient.

The clinic is where lung specialists perform tests into possible lung cancer. It is held every Friday at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital. Please note that the appointment may take most of the day.

Being referred to us

How outpatients are referred

You may be referred to the clinic by your GP or hospital consultant following a chest x-ray or scan. We will try to see you within two weeks of this referral. You’ll receive a letter or phone call confirming the appointment date and details of what to expect at the clinic.

How inpatients are referred (Royal Liverpool University Hospital)

If you’re already in the hospital and need tests for lung cancer, a lung nurse specialist will talk to the medical staff looking after you. The nurse will arrange for you to be reviewed by a lung expert (chest physician). The appropriate tests and/or a follow-up appointment will also be organised.

What happens when you see us

Tests for lung cancer include:

  • Interview: the consultant chest physician will take your medical history and ask about any symptoms you have.
  • Blood tests: this checks your general health, including how well your liver, kidneys, heart and other organs are working.
  • Spirometry: this is a blowing test that measures how well your lungs are working.
  • CT scan of the chest and upper abdomen: this is a complicated x-ray which gives a detailed picture of your lungs.
  • Flexible bronchoscopy: a thin tube with a lens at the end is passed down your windpipe and into the lungs. It works like a telescope, allowing the doctor to see your lung tissue. Sometimes a tissue sample is taken for further testing by a tissue expert (pathologist), who will look at it under a microscope.

What happens next

Lung Cancer treatment

Prior to your follow-up appointment, your test results will be discussed by the multi-disciplinary team (MDT). The MDT is a group of cancer experts including:

  • chest physicians
  • thoracic (chest) surgeons
  • radiologists (experts in taking images of the body e.g. x-ray)
  • oncologists (specialists in the treatment of cancer using non-surgical techniques
  • palliative care specialists
  • lung nurse specialists.

The tests need to be processed and evaluated. You’ll be offered a second appointment for a week later to discuss the results. Lung cancer treatment options will be discussed with you if cancer is diagnosed. Sometimes, however, further tests are required before treatment can be planned.

During these visits, you’ll meet many staff including consultant chest physicians and lung nurse specialists.

The MDT decide the best treatment pathway if cancer is diagnosed. This will be discussed with you at your follow-up clinic appointment. You will play a full role in whatever treatment decisions are made. Find out more about MDT working.

All our cancer treatment specialists run clinics at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital every Friday. You’ll usually be offered the opportunity to see them on the same day (after your follow-up appointment).

If you’re an inpatient, your lung nurse specialist will discuss the proposed treatment pathway with you on the ward.

Treatment options

Treatment plans generally involve one – or more – of the specialities listed below.

Surgery: surgery is used to treat non small-cell lung cancers. It is only performed if the cancer is limited to part of the chest, and if you are fit and well. It can involve removing part of the lung, or the entire lung.

Oncology: oncologists specialise in the non-surgical treatment of lung cancer.

Radiotherapy or chemotherapy or a combination of both. In some cases, surveillance or monitoring is carried out. This means keeping watch on your cancer to see if it changes.

Specialist palliative care: this is the care of any patient with complex symptoms that affect normal activities. It aims to improve the quality of life for both patient and family. We have a nationally-renowned palliative care team at the Royal.

Making a decision about treatment

Talking to specialists will help you make decisions about treatment. You can make these choices straight away if you wish. Alternatively, you may like to take a little time to decide on the correct pathway.

Community support

Your doctor (GP) will be kept informed about your management and progress throughout your investigation, diagnosis and treatment. You’ll also be referred to your local district nursing service to ensure that you and your family have a point of contact in the community to access care at home.

You may also be referred to other support services such as the occupational therapist, dietician, medical social worker and physiotherapist depending upon your individual needs.

More information

Clinical Trials

You may be asked to take part in a clinical trial. Clinical trials help us learn more about the best way to treat specific conditions. You can find out more about the Clinical Research Unit by visiting the website here

The team

Patient support: your key-worker

You’ll meet the the lung nurse specialist during clinic visits or your stay as an inpatient. The nurse is your key-worker and there to provide you with support and advice about diagnosis, treatment and care. The nurse will discuss any issues and concerns you may have. The nurse also organises the appropriate support to help you further, including the help of: medical social workers, occupational therapists, dieticians and physiotherapists.

Related links

Talk, connect and take action

We are teaming up with Macmillan, Liverpool Wellbeing Enterprise and the Clinical Commissioning Group to look at how better we can provide our cancer patients to make sure you are as happy as you can be and that you're doing all the things you want to do following your diagnosis.

For more details, contact your Community Wellbeing Officer today on 0151 237 2670, email, drop in to the Macmillan support and information service on the ground floor in the Linda McCartney Centre.

Download the leaflet here.