Home > Diseases we research > Lung cancer


Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the lung grow in an uncontrolled way. It often spreads (metastasises) to other parts of the body before the cancer can be detected in the lungs.
About lung cancer

What is lung cancer?

There are two main types of lung cancer, which grow and spread differently; small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Lung cancer is by far the number one cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in Australia.

Key statistics

  • 12,434
    Estimated number of new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in 2017
  • 20% detection
    Lung cancer is only detected in its early operable stages in about 20 per cent of patients.
  • 14% survival
    The survival rate at five years is currently only 14 per cent.
  • 80%
    Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for 80% of all lung cancer cases and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for only 20%, yet spreads more quickly than NSCLC.
  • Limited treatment
    Surgery in the early stages is the only curative therapy at present.

Lung cancer research at Garvan

Garvan’s lung cancer research program under Professor Neil Watkins is diverse, focusing on defining the genetic characteristics of lung cancer, developing biomarkers of prognosis and therapeutic responsiveness and understanding the molecular mechanisms of resistance in order to develop new treatment strategies.

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