Lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control, although rates have been dropping as more people have quit smoking. Lung cancer may begin in the lungs or metastasize from other sites in the body. There are two types: small cell and non-small cell. Each has different treatments.
How Lung Cancer is Diagnosed
If your doctor determines that your medical history, including smoking, exposure to certain substances such as asbestos, and family history of cancer, put you at risk of lung cancer, he or she may recommend you be screened. A variety of tests are used to diagnose lung cancer, such as:
- Chest X-ray – An X-ray to check for abnormal areas on the lungs.
- CT scan – A series of X-rays put together by a computer to create images of the lung. A special spiral or helical CT scan may identify smaller tumors than a regular X-ray. (Link to radiology page)
- Sputum cytology – Examination of a sample of mucus from the lungs.
- Biopsy – Removal of a sample of lung tissue to be tested for cancer cells. Methods of lung biopsy include bronchoscopy, needle aspiration and thoracentesis, during which the doctor withdraws fluid from your lungs.
- Pulmonary function tests – These measure how well your lungs work and provide your doctor with information about what kind of treatments may be appropriate for you.
Cape Cod Healthcare offers the latest in lung cancer diagnostic technology: a minimally invasive procedure known as Navigational Bronchoscopy. The SPiNView® Thoracic Navigation System allows physicians to pinpoint a biopsy or to even remove small lung lesions without invasive surgery or a needle biopsy. It uses your CT scan to produce a 3-D roadmap the surgeon can follow to reach and remove suspicious tissue while preserving healthy tissue.
The bronchoscope uses a flexible tube to access any part of the lung during a process that takes 30 to 45 minutes while you are under sedation.
How Lung Cancer is Treated
Your treatment will be customized to your situation, taking into consideration the type, location and stage of cancer. Our Thoracic Oncology Clinic includes a cross-section of healthcare providers, such as surgeons, oncologists and social workers, who determine the optimal mode of treatment. They will meet regularly about your care and can consult with experts from our partner hospitals, such as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Your treatment may involve:
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Jeffrey Spillane, MD, is skilled in all types of thoracic surgery, including lung lobectomies (removal of a cancerous section of the lung) using the minimally invasive da Vinci® Surgical System. Patients lose less blood, go home sooner and recover faster than those having traditional surgeries. Your doctor will help you determine if you qualify.
Cape Cod Healthcare offers a full range of support services for cancer patients and their families, including counseling, education, financial and insurance information, and networking. We will be your partner as you navigate cancer.
The American Cancer Society provides in-depth information about lung cancer.