What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer usually starts in the cells that line the inside of the lungs. The two basic types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer.
A diagnosis of lung cancer can be frightening and overwhelming. North Memorial Health offers patients with lung cancer and their families a comprehensive, coordinated approach to care. Our healthcare professionals are experienced specialists in lung cancer management. They work closely together to share information about each patient’s condition and collaborate on a personal treatment plan.
How can you prevent lung cancer?
Although there is no way to completely prevent lung cancer, there are definitely things that you can do to reduce your risk:
- Quit smoking. Quitting will help reduce your risk. Meet with your healthcare provider to support on ways to stop smoking. Options include nicotine replacement products, medications and support groups.
- Eliminate secondhand smoke. Avoid areas where people are smoking and if you live or work with someone that does smoke, encourage them to either quit or smoke in an area that is outside and away from you.
- Eat Healthy. Choose a diet that is rich with fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise. It’s never too late to start exercising. Listen to your body and try to exercise three to five days per week.
- Avoid carcinogens at work. Protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals at work. Become familiar with your employee’s safety precautions and follow them.
- Test your home for radon. Have the radon levels in your home checked. For information on radon testing, contact your local department of public health.
Diagnosis & Treatment Options
How is lung cancer diagnosed?
Tests that examine the lungs are used to detect (find), diagnose, and stage non-small cell lung cancer. Tests and procedures to detect, diagnose, and stage non-small cell lung cancer are often done at the same time. Some of the following tests and procedures may be used:
- Physical exam and history
- Laboratory tests
- Chest X-ray
- CT scan (CAT scan)
- Lung biopsy
How is lung cancer treated?
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options:
- The stage of the cancer (the size of the tumor and whether it is in the lung only or has spread to other places in the body).
- The type of lung cancer.
- Whether there are symptoms such as coughing or trouble breathing.
- The patient’s general health.
- For patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, current treatments do not cure the cancer. The treatment that’s right for you depends mainly on the type and stage of lung cancer. You may receive more than one type of treatment.
Preparing for Care
What providers will you work with to develop your care plan and manage your diagnosis?
The lung cancer health care team consists of physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals who specialize in the unique needs of lung cancer patients. Each patient’s healthcare team may include primary care providers, pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and clinical nurse specialists.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded or are short of breath.
- You cough up blood.
- You cannot think clearly.
- Your lips or nails look blue or pale.
When should you contact your provider?
- You have a fever.
- You have blood in your mucus or spit.
- You are vomiting and cannot keep food or liquids down.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.