Lung Cancers and Mesothelioma

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust Lung Cancer Service provides diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. The service is overseen by a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) of specialists in lung cancer who work across the Belfast City Hospital, Royal Victoria Hospital and the Mater Hospital.

The Lung Cancer MDT meets weekly in the Belfast City Hospital to agree upon patient treatment plans. This team of consists of:

  • Chest Physicians (also known as Respiratory doctors)
  • Thoracic surgeons
  • Medical Oncologists
  • Clinical Oncologists
  • Radiologists
  • Pathologists
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • Palliative Care specialists
  • Administration staff

Please note that this section details services provided to adult patients of the Belfast Trust. Information on Children’s Cancers.


  • Types

    There are two main types of primary lung cancer:

    • Small cell lung cancer
    • Non-small cell lung cancer

    Other less common types of lung cancer are:

    • Carcinoid Tumours
    • Mesothelioma

    Explanations of these types of lung cancer.

  • Referral

    If a GP suspects a patient of having Lung cancer, they will be referred to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast City Hospital or the Mater Infirmorium Hospital. Patients will be contacted regarding an appointment.

    Patients may be seen at the specialist lung clinic which takes place on a Tuesday in Belfast City Hospital Respiratory Clinic. The Respiratory Clinic is located on the ground floor of Belfast City Hospital Tower block. The entrance to the clinic is to the left of the main entrance to the hospital.

  • Investigations and diagnosis

    As part of the pathway for diagnosis and management of lung cancer, patients may be sent for a number of investigations.

    Tests may include:

  • Multi-disciplinary team

    The Lung Cancer Multi-disciplinary Team (MDT) meets weekly in Belfast City Hospital to discuss diagnosis and treatment planning for patients with lung cancer. Detailed discussions take place between the relevant specialists, looking at all the available results for each patient. This ensures that the best treatment plan is offered each individual lung cancer patient.

    A record of MDM discussions will be sent to each patient’s GP.

  • Treatment
    Surgery

    Surgery may be the most appropriate treatment for patients with localised lung cancer. Surgery to remove the cancer is a major operation and it will take a number of weeks to recover from it.

    Lung surgery in Northern Ireland is provided at the Royal Victoria Hospital and Belfast City Hospital by thoracic surgeons.

    Patients are prioritised by:

    • clinical care pathway
    • clinical urgency
    • theatre availability
    • job specialisation of surgeon

    The majority of patients are seen in the outpatient clinic by the surgeon expected to carry out the operation. Patients are given an approximate date of surgery or waiting time by their surgeon and will be kept up to date by the Lung Scheduling office staff.

    Patients coming to Royal Victoria Hospital or Belfast City Hospital for surgery may be asked to come up to meet one of our medical team for a pre assessment appointment before surgery to ensure they are fit and safe for surgery. In some cases patients are asked to have an anaesthetic assessment. If patients require this then they may need to be admitted overnight.

    Patients undergoing surgery at Belfast City Hospital will be admitted to Level 5 of the Tower block. If they are having surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital, they will be admitted into Ward 4A. Both are specialised wards.

  • Symptom Control

    Many patients with lung cancer and mesothelioma benefit from the additional symptom control advice of our palliative care team. Symptoms include:

    • Coughing
    • Breathlessness
    • Coughing up of blood
    • Pain
    • Poor appetite
    • Weakness

    If a patient has any of these symptoms, the team can use drugs or other treatments to help manage these. Working with local healthcare teams, our purpose is to ensure the best possible quality of life for patients.

  • Follow Up

    After treatment is completed, patients will have regular check-ups. These are very important for the surgeon or oncologist to monitor patient progress.

    Patients may have x-rays from time to time but the most important part of thier follow-up will be the specialist’s examination of their lungs.

    If patients have any problems or notice any new symptoms in between review appointments, they should let their GP or specialist nurse know as soon as possible and they can arrange a more urgent review.

    It is important to have a nutritious and well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, even if appetite and interest in food has been reduced. A dietitian will be able to advise patients on ways to eat well and can help with any problems they may have. If patients are being treated with chemotherapy, it is important they do not take vitamin supplements without discussing this with their oncologist in case this interferes with the efficacy of their chemotherapy.

    For advice on giving up smoking here.

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