Lung cancer remains a major worldwide health problem, accounting for more than a sixth of cancer deaths. The proportion of cancers that are adenocarcinomas is increasing in North America and to some degree in Europe, leading to a changing clinical picture characterised by early development of metastases. Newer diagnostic techniques have allowed for more accurate tumour staging and treatment planning. In patients with non-small-cell cancer, surgical resection offers substantial cure rates in early-stage cases. Combined chemotherapy plus radiation therapy has clearly improved the treatment results for patients with locally advanced cancers, and patients with metastatic disease are now candidates for newer chemotherapy regimens with more favourable results than in the past. Small-cell lung cancer is highly responsive to chemotherapy, and recent advances in radiation therapy have improved the prospects for long survival. New techniques for screening, and innovative approaches to both local and systemic treatment offer hope for substantial progress against this disease in the near future.