Lung Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing & Treating Lung Cancer

While receiving a lung cancer diagnosis can be an extremely troubling event, there are treatment options available now that provide hope. Here at Mercy, our multispecialty team of cancer experts understands the importance of a well-rounded approach to detecting lung cancer cells. Mercy’s cancer specialists offer the latest tools for diagnosing and treating lung cancer. We listen to your concerns upfront and answer each one of your questions along the way. 

Early Detection & Prevention of Lung Cancer

Perhaps the single biggest factor in surviving a lung cancer diagnosis is early detection. Routine lung cancer screenings could save your life. Learn more about lung cancer screenings and the importance of early detection.

How to Test for Lung Cancer

If your Mercy specialist believes you may be at higher risk for lung cancer, based on your lung screening, a routine chest X-ray may be suggested. If lung cancer is suspected, imaging tests and procedures may be recommended to confirm a diagnosis. Below are some of the most common types of procedures used to test for lung cancer and determine lung cancer staging.

low-dose CT scan also referred to as an LDCT, is a simple test is usually conducted after your initial lung cancer screening.  An LDCT allows your Mercy doctor to capture a more detailed representation of your lungs by using a special X-ray is used to take multiple pictures of your lungs.

Also known simply as a PET scan, this procedure is sometimes combined with an LDCT scan by using a machine that can run both imaging tests simultaneously. A PET scan is performed by injecting a radioactive substance, also known as a tracer, into a vein to look for disease within your lungs. This allows your Mercy doctor the ability to compare areas of higher radioactivity with the more detailed picture gathered during your LDCT scan.

If an abnormality is caught during your chest X-ray or your LDCT/PET scan detects anything unusual, your Mercy doctor might recommend a lung biopsy. A lung biopsy is when a pathologist physically removes a small sample of your cells in order to view them under a microscope and check for signs of cancer. There are several types of biopsies used in the detection of lung cancer.

A bronchoscopy is a type of biopsy used to view the trachea and airways in the lung for anything out of the ordinary. A bronchoscope is a thin instrument used to remove tissue samples during the procedure. It also has a light attachment that’s used for viewing.

Endobronchial ultrasound is another form of biopsy, otherwise known as EBUS. It’s used to gather images of the lungs and lymph nodes through a scope. After sedating you, a pulmonologist will insert a tube through your mouth and windpipe to reach the lungs in order to access and view the area of concern determined by an X-ray.

Lung Cancer Treatment Options

Mercy’s team of cancer specialists has experience treating all types of lung cancer, including lung cancer that has spread or returned. Your treatment plan will depend on several important factors, including:

  • The current stage of your lung cancer
  • Whether lung cancer has spread to other areas of the body
  • Overall health

We’ll develop a coordinated and thorough treatment plan to fight your lung cancer, by using medication therapy, radiation therapy, cancer surgery or a combination of these treatment methods.


Also referred to simply as “chemo,” chemotherapy uses a range of different drugs, usually inserted directly into the vein, to kill cancer cells, as well as to stop them from growing and dividing.

Targeted Therapy

Most drugs used during chemotherapy can’t tell the difference between cancer cells and healthy cells. This can lead to unwelcome side effects such as nausea, hair loss and memory problems. Targeted therapy uses drugs that aim for specific areas inside cancer cells, leaving your healthy cells alone.


One of the ways that cancer cells grow and develop within your immune system is due to their ability to evade the immune system altogether. This type of drug treatment uses special medications to recruit your immune system to attack cancer once it recognizes its presence within your body.

Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy

Also referred to as SBRT, this type of external radiation therapy is ideal for lung cancer tumors that are hard to reach, prone to movement or next to vital organs. SBRT offers a more precise radiation delivery system while avoiding healthy tissue next to the tumor.

Depending on the type and stage, lung cancer can be treated with surgery. Lung cancer surgery may be an option for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and early-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC). There are several lung cancer surgery options that may involve the removal of the whole lung or a part of the lung. These types of lung cancer surgery include:


  • wedge resection,
  • segmental resection
  • lobectomy
  • pneumonectomy


Whenever possible, Mercy surgeons use minimally invasive robotic surgery with the goal of shorter hospital stays and reduced pain. Learn more about lung cancer surgery options.

Discussions on Mercy Lung Cancer Care

Lung Cancer Support at Mercy

At Mercy, our goal isn’t only to help you treat lung cancer, but also to prevent your cancer from coming back. Whether you need tools to quit smoking or annual checkups to make sure you’re cancer-free, you’ll find all the support you need here at Mercy. Listen to Mercy providers discuss lung cancer treatment options, risk factors & overall care at Mercy in the videos below.

Lung Cancer Information

Mercy provides dedicated teams that will provide comprehensive and coordinated care to cancer patients.