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About advanced cancer

Find out about advanced lung cancer and how it might affect you.

Advanced lung cancer means that the cancer has spread from where it started in the lung. It might also cause fluid that contains cancer cells to collect around the lung. This is called fluid on the lung or a pleural effusion.

Unfortunately advanced cancer can’t usually be cured. But treatment can control it, relieve symptoms, and give you a good quality of life for a while.

A cancer may be advanced when it is first diagnosed. Or it may come back some time after you were first treated (recurrent cancer).

Locally advanced cancer

Locally advanced cancer is cancer that has spread into tissues around the lungs. For example, it may grow into an airway, the chest wall or the membranes that surround the lung (the pleura). 

Where lung cancer spreads

A cancer that has spread to another part of the body is called a secondary cancer or metastasis. Not all lung cancers will spread. But if the cancer does spread there are certain parts of the body that it is more likely to go to. The most common areas for lung cancer to spread to are:

  • nearby lymph nodes
  • the brain
  • bones
  • the liver
  • the adrenal glands (small hormone glands just above your kidney)

How you might feel

Finding out you have an advanced cancer can be a shock. It’s common to feel uncertain and anxious and it’s normal to not be able to think about anything else.

Lots of information and support is available to you and your family and friends. It can help to find out more about your cancer and the treatments you might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.

Talk to your specialist to understand:

  • what your diagnosis means
  • what is likely to happen
  • what treatment is available
  • how treatment can help you


Many people want to know what the outlook is and how their cancer will develop. This is different for each person. Your cancer specialist doctor has all the information about you and your cancer. They're the best person to discuss this with.

You can also talk to your specialist nurse.

Or you can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on 0808 800 4040, from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.