Lung cancer is the growth of abnormal cells within the lungs. If left untreated, cancerous cells spread, or metastasize, to other organs and tissues.
Your lungs occupy most of your chest. These large, spongy organs absorb oxygen into your bloodstream each time you inhale. Your lungs also remove carbon dioxide, a harmful waste product, from your blood each time you exhale.
Cancer may develop in any of the sections, or lobes, of your lungs. Smoking cigarettes, tobacco products, and other toxic substances plays a role in the development of lung cancer.
Doctors divide lung cancer into two types: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. As many as 85% of all lung cancers are non-small cell. Small cell lung cancers account for up to 15% of lung cancer cases. Your treatment depends greatly on which type of lung cancer your doctor diagnoses.
Early diagnosis of lung cancer leads to the best outcomes. Englewood Health offers low-dose computerized tomography (CT) scans to screen people at high-risk for lung cancer. Recent studies show this early screening test coupled with smoking cessation reduces the likelihood of death from lung cancer by as much as 20%.
If your doctor makes a lung cancer diagnosis, your treatment team at The Lefcourt Family Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center works quickly to find effective treatments tailored to your personal needs. We provide innovative solutions for even the most advanced disease, including stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), customized targeted and immunotherapies, and minimally invasive surgery.
Why Choose Englewood Health for Lung Cancer Care?
A lung cancer diagnosis turns your life upside-down. At The Lefcourt Family Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center, we personalize your care to address your physical, emotional, and psychological needs. Our innovative treatment technologies help us effectively manage both early and advanced-stage lung cancer. When you come to Englewood Health, you benefit from:
- Board-certified physicians specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of all types of lung cancer
- Comprehensive lung cancer screening examinations using low-dose CT scans
- Biweekly lung cancer team meetings where the cases of all patients with newly diagnosed cancer are presented to multiple providers to plan personalized treatment
- The most advanced, evidence-based treatments, such as new targeted therapies tailored to each cancer’s unique genetic makeup
- Surgical excellence using the most up-to-date technologies and minimally invasive methods to help you recover faster with less chance of complications (most patients go home in 1-3 days)
- More precise radiation therapy using the latest Varian Calypso® Anchored Beacon® transponders to provide real-time, 3D tumor position within the chest
- Access to a variety of clinical trials investigating new and novel therapies for treating lung cancer
Lung Cancer Risk Factors
Smoking remains the number one risk factor for developing lung cancer. Cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoking all significantly increase your risk for lung cancer, even if you smoke low-tar or “light” tobacco products.
Along with smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, other known lung cancer risk factors include:
- Air pollution
- Diesel exhaust
- Inhaled chemicals such as arsenic or coal products
- Radioactive ores, such as uranium ore
Some risk factors are unavoidable, including:
- Family or personal history of lung cancer
- Previous radiation therapy to the chest
Other substances, including marijuana, e-cigarettes (vaping), and talcum powder may also increase your lung cancer risk. However, more research is needed to understand if these substances relate to cancer.
Lung Cancer Symptoms
In most cases, lung cancer causes no symptoms until it reaches advanced stages. This is why it’s important to get screened if you are at high-risk. If you develop any symptoms, let your doctor know immediately. Common symptoms include:
- Chest pain that worsens with coughing, laughing, or deep breathing
- Chronic cough, worsening cough, or wheezing
- Coughing up blood
- Fatigue and loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
Other symptoms, such as bone pain or nervous system changes, may occur if lung cancer spreads outside the lungs.
Support Services for Lung Cancer
A lung cancer diagnosis is life-changing. That’s why we offer multiple support services to help you through this challenge.
Smoking Cessation Program
It’s hard to quit smoking, but doing so significantly lowers your lung cancer risk. Englewood Health supports you in quitting smoking with our smoking cessation program. We partner with you to develop strategies for quitting so you can live more healthfully.
In most cases, genetic changes don’t play a role in lung cancer development. But if your condition has a hereditary component, you and your family benefit from our Cancer Risk Assessment and Genetic Counseling Program.
The Graf Center for Integrative Medicine offers complementary therapies designed to boost health and wellness, like massage and yoga. A licensed medical doctor oversees each of our integrative medicine programs.
A nutrient-rich diet helps you stay strong during your treatment. If you have dietary questions or concerns, our registered dietitians help you find answers. We design a nutrition plan based on your personal preferences and needs.
Some lung cancer treatments cause unpleasant side effects. Our palliative medicine specialists design a plan to manage these symptoms without interruption to your treatment schedule.
The lung cancer treatment process may be confusing. That’s why we provide a dedicated patient navigator to help you understand the process more completely. Your patient navigator:
- Connects you with other support services outside Englewood Health
- Gets more information from your care team
- Manages many of your appointments
- Provides emotional support
After your diagnosis, you may want to speak with people who’ve been in your shoes. We connect you with support groups within our health system and the community.