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Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer. Only breast cancer is more common. The field of cancer care has made progress against cancers of the lungs. The disease can be defeated, depending on type and stage of the cancer.

diagram of cancer affecting one lung

Primary lung cancer occurs mostly in two forms: nonsmall-cell cancer and small cell cancer. The cancer team approaches these two forms of lung cancer with different strategies. (Various types of cancers from other parts of the body–including the breast, colon, prostate or other locations–may also spread to the lungs. This is called metastatic lung cancer.)

Lung cancer often causes few, if any, symptoms until it has progressed. Later, or in other patients, respiratory symptoms such as a telltale-cough, fluid in the lungs (pleural effusion) or blood in the sputum may be signs of this disease.

Lung cancer can be a challenging disease to treat. It may require a number of different kinds of care. But progress has been made. It is permitting more patients a successful course of care, usually with surgery, sometimes in combination with radiation therapy or chemotherapy. The Lourdes Cancer Program approaches each case individually and with the most up-to-date methods. It also offers patients access to experimental treatments.

comparison of open surgery incisions, VATS incisions, and da Vinci surgery incisions
Comparison of incision size with conventional lung surgery, with video assisted surgery, and with the da Vinci surgery that Lourdes offers.

The three major areas of cancer treatment are involved in lung cancer treatment at Lourdes:

  • surgical oncology. Specialized surgeons may remove the cancerous area of the lung. Surgical services for cancer in and around the lungs are offered by experienced thoracic surgeons at Lourdes. These specialists are some of the best at removing these areas in ways that involve smaller incisions, less disruption to chest tissue, and faster recover. This might mean use of robotic surgery, with the da Vinci system at Lourdes.
  • radiation oncology. Using radiation beams and radiation energy is an effective way to kill cancer cells. The Lourdes cancer team sometimes uses radiation therapy after or even instead of surgical treatment. Sometimes it might be used in combination with chemotherapy.
  • medical oncology. This therapy with chemical medications designed to enter the blood stream and kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be an effective way to add to the effects of surgery or radiation, or both.

Each of these steps, used in the best available combinations, is meant to destroy lung cancer tissue. The treatments will decrease the amount of cancer or cure it by removing it completely and killing any leftover cancer cells, so that tumors do not return.

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