Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in your lungs. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States among both men and women. Every year, more than 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with lung cancer, and nearly 156,000 people die from the disease.

People who smoke have the highest risk of lung cancer. The risk increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes smoked. If you quit smoking - even after many years - your risk of lung cancer drops significantly.

Other risk factors for lung cancer include:

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke, even if you don’t smoke
  • Exposure to radon gas, which can accumulate in homes and buildings
  • Exposure to asbestos and other substances known to cause cancer 
  • A family history of lung cancer

There are three main types of lung cancer:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer - most common 
  • Small cell lung cancer - less common and tends to spread quickly
  • Lung carcinoid tumors - least common, grows slowly and rarely spreads

Treatment

It is not uncommon to receive more than one type of treatment, depending on the severity of the lung cancer and if it has spread. Treatments for lung cancer include:

  • Surgery to remove the cancer, which may include removing part or all of a lung and lymph nodes from the chest
  • Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy, which uses drugs to kill cancer cells and stop them from growing. It may also be used to relieve pain and symptoms of advanced lung cancer
  • Targeted therapy, which uses drugs to attack specific cancer cells and causes less harm to normal cells than radiation and chemotherapy
  • Clinical trial

Your Penn State Cancer Institute doctor will discuss the best way to treat your cancer.

All cancer treatment decisions are reviewed and coordinated by a Penn State team including thoracic surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, and pulmonologists who focus specifically on malignant lung tumors. 

Care Team

You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.
Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Rebecca Bascom, MD, MPH Rebecca Bascom, MD, MPH Pulmonologist View Researcher Profile
Chandra Belani, MD Chandra Belani, MD Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Rickhesvar Mahraj, MD, FRCP, FRCR Rickhesvar Mahraj, MD, FRCP, FRCR Radiologist View Researcher Profile
Michael F. Reed, MD Michael F. Reed, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematologist/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Matthew D. Taylor, MD Matthew D. Taylor, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Jennifer Toth, MD Jennifer Toth, MD Interventional Pulmonologist View Researcher Profile
Leonard Tuanquin, MD Leonard Tuanquin, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Henry Wagner Jr., MD Henry Wagner Jr., MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Nicholas Zaorsky, MD Nicholas Zaorsky, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile

Locations

Penn State Cancer Institute

Penn State Cancer Institute

400 University Dr
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-6585

Clinical Trials

Site for LungMAP: A MASTER PROTOCOL TO EVALUATE BIOMARKER-DRIVEN THERAPIES AND IMMUNOTHERAPIES IN PREVIOUSLY-TREATED NON-SMALL CELL LUNG CANCER

Groups, Classes and Support

We offer a variety of support services beyond educational programs and support groups to help patients and families cope with cancer. These services include:

  • Counseling for emotional, financial and social issues
  • Spiritual care
  • Palliative care services including pain management 
  • Genetics counseling

Patient navigators assist each patient and their families with getting questions answered, knowing which physicians to see at what time during your treatment, follow-up, managing insurance issues, and more.

Prevention and Screening

You can reduce your risk of getting lung cancer:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • If you smoke, stop. Quitting reduces your risk even if you’ve been smoking for years.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke. If you know someone who smokes, have them smoke outside.
  • Test your home for radon. Contact your local health department or American Lung Association.
  • Avoid carcinogens at work. Follow your employer’s precautions.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid large doses of vitamins in pill form.
  • Exercise regularly.

Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help find cancer at an early stage. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread.

Lung cancer screening is recommended for adults over 55 who have smoked at least one pack of cigarettes for 30 years. Longtime smokers who have quit within 15 years should also be screened.

Doctors use a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the lung to screen for cancer.

Lung cancer screening has a few risks. Some lung cancers grow slow and may never cause harm. When these cancers are picked up during screening, they may be treated unnecessarily. Also, you are exposed to a low dose of radiation during screening. Doctors don’t consider this a major risk, since the radiation dose is low.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

People who smoke have the highest risk of lung cancer. The risk increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes smoked. If you quit smoking - even after many years - your risk of lung cancer drops significantly.

Symptoms

In its earliest stages, lung cancer doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. Signs and symptoms typically occur when lung cancer is advanced, including:

  • A new cough that doesn't go away
  • Changes in a chronic cough or "smoker's cough"
  • Coughing up blood, even a small amount
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Bone pain
  • Headache

Diagnosis

If you have symptoms that worry you, call a doctor. Some tests to diagnose lung cancer include:

  • Imaging tests. An X-ray of your lungs can detect tumors. A CT scan can detect small lesions on the lungs that can’t be detected by an X-ray.
  • Sputum examination. If you have a cough, a sample of sputum (saliva and mucus from the throat) may be examined under a microscope for lung cancer cells.
  • Biopsy. Your doctor may take tissue samples from your lungs and lymph nodes and examine them for lung cancer cells.

Once your lung cancer has been diagnosed, your doctor will use imaging tests to determine the extent, or stage, of the cancer. Some imaging tests that may be used include:

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • PET-CT scan 
  • Bone scan

Treatment depends on the stage of lung cancer. Lung cancer has four stages:

  • Stage 1. Cancer is limited to the lung and hasn't spread to the lymph nodes. The tumor is generally smaller than 2 inches (5 centimeters) across.
  • Stage 2. The tumor at this stage may have grown larger than 2 inches, or it may be a smaller tumor that involves nearby structures, such as the chest wall, the diaphragm or the lining around the lungs. Cancer may also have spread to the nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3. The tumor at this stage may have grown very large and invaded other organs near the lungs. Or this stage may indicate a smaller tumor accompanied by cancer cells in lymph nodes farther away from the lungs.
  • Stage 4. Cancer has spread beyond the affected lung to the other lung or to distant areas of the body.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in your lungs. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States among both men and women. Every year, more than 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with lung cancer, and nearly 156,000 people die from the disease.

People who smoke have the highest risk of lung cancer. The risk increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes smoked. If you quit smoking - even after many years - your risk of lung cancer drops significantly.

Other risk factors for lung cancer include:

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke, even if you don’t smoke
  • Exposure to radon gas, which can accumulate in homes and buildings
  • Exposure to asbestos and other substances known to cause cancer 
  • A family history of lung cancer

There are three main types of lung cancer:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer - most common 
  • Small cell lung cancer - less common and tends to spread quickly
  • Lung carcinoid tumors - least common, grows slowly and rarely spreads

It is not uncommon to receive more than one type of treatment, depending on the severity of the lung cancer and if it has spread. Treatments for lung cancer include:

  • Surgery to remove the cancer, which may include removing part or all of a lung and lymph nodes from the chest
  • Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy, which uses drugs to kill cancer cells and stop them from growing. It may also be used to relieve pain and symptoms of advanced lung cancer
  • Targeted therapy, which uses drugs to attack specific cancer cells and causes less harm to normal cells than radiation and chemotherapy
  • Clinical trial

Your Penn State Cancer Institute doctor will discuss the best way to treat your cancer.

All cancer treatment decisions are reviewed and coordinated by a Penn State team including thoracic surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, and pulmonologists who focus specifically on malignant lung tumors. 

You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.
Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Rebecca Bascom, MD, MPH Rebecca Bascom, MD, MPH Pulmonologist View Researcher Profile
Chandra Belani, MD Chandra Belani, MD Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Rickhesvar Mahraj, MD, FRCP, FRCR Rickhesvar Mahraj, MD, FRCP, FRCR Radiologist View Researcher Profile
Michael F. Reed, MD Michael F. Reed, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematologist/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Matthew D. Taylor, MD Matthew D. Taylor, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Jennifer Toth, MD Jennifer Toth, MD Interventional Pulmonologist View Researcher Profile
Leonard Tuanquin, MD Leonard Tuanquin, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Henry Wagner Jr., MD Henry Wagner Jr., MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Nicholas Zaorsky, MD Nicholas Zaorsky, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Penn State Cancer Institute

Penn State Cancer Institute

400 University Dr
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-6585
Site for LungMAP: A MASTER PROTOCOL TO EVALUATE BIOMARKER-DRIVEN THERAPIES AND IMMUNOTHERAPIES IN PREVIOUSLY-TREATED NON-SMALL CELL LUNG CANCER

We offer a variety of support services beyond educational programs and support groups to help patients and families cope with cancer. These services include:

  • Counseling for emotional, financial and social issues
  • Spiritual care
  • Palliative care services including pain management 
  • Genetics counseling

Patient navigators assist each patient and their families with getting questions answered, knowing which physicians to see at what time during your treatment, follow-up, managing insurance issues, and more.

You can reduce your risk of getting lung cancer:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • If you smoke, stop. Quitting reduces your risk even if you’ve been smoking for years.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke. If you know someone who smokes, have them smoke outside.
  • Test your home for radon. Contact your local health department or American Lung Association.
  • Avoid carcinogens at work. Follow your employer’s precautions.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid large doses of vitamins in pill form.
  • Exercise regularly.

Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help find cancer at an early stage. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread.

Lung cancer screening is recommended for adults over 55 who have smoked at least one pack of cigarettes for 30 years. Longtime smokers who have quit within 15 years should also be screened.

Doctors use a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the lung to screen for cancer.

Lung cancer screening has a few risks. Some lung cancers grow slow and may never cause harm. When these cancers are picked up during screening, they may be treated unnecessarily. Also, you are exposed to a low dose of radiation during screening. Doctors don’t consider this a major risk, since the radiation dose is low.

People who smoke have the highest risk of lung cancer. The risk increases with the length of time and number of cigarettes smoked. If you quit smoking - even after many years - your risk of lung cancer drops significantly.

Symptoms

In its earliest stages, lung cancer doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. Signs and symptoms typically occur when lung cancer is advanced, including:

  • A new cough that doesn't go away
  • Changes in a chronic cough or "smoker's cough"
  • Coughing up blood, even a small amount
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Bone pain
  • Headache

Diagnosis

If you have symptoms that worry you, call a doctor. Some tests to diagnose lung cancer include:

  • Imaging tests. An X-ray of your lungs can detect tumors. A CT scan can detect small lesions on the lungs that can’t be detected by an X-ray.
  • Sputum examination. If you have a cough, a sample of sputum (saliva and mucus from the throat) may be examined under a microscope for lung cancer cells.
  • Biopsy. Your doctor may take tissue samples from your lungs and lymph nodes and examine them for lung cancer cells.

Once your lung cancer has been diagnosed, your doctor will use imaging tests to determine the extent, or stage, of the cancer. Some imaging tests that may be used include:

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • PET-CT scan 
  • Bone scan

Treatment depends on the stage of lung cancer. Lung cancer has four stages:

  • Stage 1. Cancer is limited to the lung and hasn't spread to the lymph nodes. The tumor is generally smaller than 2 inches (5 centimeters) across.
  • Stage 2. The tumor at this stage may have grown larger than 2 inches, or it may be a smaller tumor that involves nearby structures, such as the chest wall, the diaphragm or the lining around the lungs. Cancer may also have spread to the nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3. The tumor at this stage may have grown very large and invaded other organs near the lungs. Or this stage may indicate a smaller tumor accompanied by cancer cells in lymph nodes farther away from the lungs.
  • Stage 4. Cancer has spread beyond the affected lung to the other lung or to distant areas of the body.