Lung Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing 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. Below are some of the most common types of procedures used throughout our personalized lung cancer screening process. 

Lung Cancer Screening

Perhaps the single biggest factor in surviving a cancer diagnosis is detecting it early. And a routine lung cancer screening could save your life. Your Mercy doctor will conduct a simple physical exam to check for abnormal signs of disease, such as lumps, and review your overall health history, including smoking habits.  

Chest X-Ray

An X-ray is an energy beam that passes through the human body onto the film. If your Mercy specialist believes, based upon your screening, you may be at higher risk for lung cancer, they may suggest a routine chest X-ray.

Low-Dose CT (LDCT)

A low-dose CT scan is a simple test is usually conducted after your initial screening and allows your Mercy doctor to capture a more detailed representation of your lungs. A special X-ray is used to take multiple pictures of your body while you lie in a machine throughout this procedure.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan

Also known simply as a PET scan, this procedure is sometimes combined with an LDCT scan by using a machine that can run both tests at the same time. 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. Your Mercy doctor can then compare areas of higher radioactivity with the more detailed picture gathered during your LDCT scan.

Lung Biopsy

If something is caught within your chest X-ray or your LDCT/PET scan detects anything unusual, your Mercy doctor might recommend a lung biopsy. There are many types of lung biopsies. Put simply, 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. A lab result of your lung biopsy procedure is usually returned within a week.

Bronchoscopy

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

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.

While certainly not an exhaustive list, this brief overview provides a window into how your Mercy doctors conduct routine screenings and procedures to determine whether you may have developed early or advanced lung cancer.

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 come back.  We’ll develop a coordinated and thorough treatment plan to fight your cancer.

Your treatment plan will depend on several important factors. These factors include what stage your cancer is in and whether it has spread to other areas of the body. Your team may consider using medication therapy, radiation therapy or surgery to treat you. 

Medication Therapy 

Chemotherapy

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.

Immunotherapy

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. 

Radiation Therapy

Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy

Also referred to as SBRT, this type of 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.

Lung Cancer Surgery

There are several lung cancer surgery options that may involve the removal of the whole lung or a part of the lung.

Wedge Resection

Wedge resection is a type of surgery for lung cancer used to remove cancer and a tiny segment of unaffected tissue. This surgery is performed when cancer has been caught very early.

Segmental Resection

Segmental resection is a type of lung cancer surgery. which involves removing a larger area of the lung along with its veins, arteries and airways.

Lobectomy

Lobectomy is when one of the lung’s lobes is removed. This is the most common surgery used to treat lung cancer. There are a few different ways doctors can perform a lobectomy - thoracotomy or open surgery, VATs or robotic surgery. The type of lobectomy depends on the type and location of your lung cancer as well as your overall health.

Pneumonectomy

Pneumonectomy is when a whole lung is removed. The type of surgery may be needed to treat lung cancer when the tumor may be too close to the chest.

Minimally invasive robotic surgery may be used to assist your Mercy surgeon in each. Unlike a human hand, the robotic “wrists” of the device allow them to maintain greater surgical precision, increased range of motion and other benefits. 

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.

Lung Cancer Risks & Treatment Courses

Resources for Lung Cancer

Early Detection
Mercy Lung Cancer Screening

Screening with a low-dose CT Scan can detect lung cancer early when it’s more likely to be cured with treatment.

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