New research published in the journal of the Royal Society of Medicine has found that in the UK an estimated 6,000 non-smokers die of lung cancer every year.

The statistic makes it a bigger killer than cervical cancer, lymphoma and ovarian cancer.

The study also found that smoking still accounts for 86% of lung cancers, but non-smoking lung cancer is the eighth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the UK and the seventh most prevalent cancer in the world.

With declining rates of smoking, unfortunately the relative proportion of lung cancers in non-smokers is rising purportedly due to second-hand smoke, occupational carcinogen exposure and outdoor pollution.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs said: GPs are doing a very good job of diagnosing cancers generally and it's credit to our colleagues’ hard work and vigilance that 75% of patients found to have cancer are referred after only one or two consultations, and that since 2008 the proportion of cancers diagnosed as an emergency have dropped from 23% to less than 19%.

"GPs are always mindful of pressures across the NHS, so we will only refer if we genuinely suspect a patient has any form of cancer. One key way to further improve appropriate referrals is to make sure that GPs have better access to diagnostic tools in the community, and the appropriate training to use them.

She also urged that we need to see more resources in the community, including more GPs in order to continue to offer improved access and deliver the best possible care to all patients, including those with cancer and those we suspect of having cancer.