Thomas Hensing, MD
Co-Director, Thoracic Oncology
About Lung Cancer
An estimated 222,520 new cases of lung cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year. This type of cancer usually forms in the cells lining the lung’s air passages, with the two main types being small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
Researchers have found several causes of lung cancer—most are related to tobacco use. Stopping smoking greatly reduces a person’s risk for developing lung cancer. Other factors include:
- Second-hand smoke
- Radon or asbestos exposure
- A history of lung disease, including previously treated lung cancer
Common signs and symptoms of lung cancer include:
- Persistent and worsening cough
- Constant chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness
- Repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis
These symptoms may be caused by lung cancer or by other, less serious conditions. It is important to check with a doctor.
Lung Cancer Screening & Diagnosis
Various tests may be used to detect lung cancer and may include a bronchoscopy, a needle aspiration, a thoracentesis or thoracotomy. These tests also determine the cancer’s severity or stage, including whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Lung cancer often spreads to the brain or bones. Determining the cancer’s stage helps the team establish lung cancer treatment options. Tests to determine stage may include: CAT (or CT) scan (computed tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), radionuclide scanning, bone scan, or Mediastinoscopy/Mediastinotomy.
A recent study has given rise to a new strategy for using CT screening to detect lung cancer at its earliest stages. The National Lung Screening Trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, looked at CT screening versus traditional X-ray for those at high risk of developing lung cancer. The dramatic results released in late 2010 showed a greater than 10 percent reduction in mortality for high-risk individuals who underwent a CT scan. With this screening, physicians are finding more early stage cancers, which can be treated with minimally invasive surgery to remove a tumor before it spreads.
NorthShore University HealthSystem physicians and the team at the Kellogg Cancer Center work collaboratively and are dedicated to putting patients and families at the center of a healthcare experience that delivers compassionate, quality care.
Every week, our multidisciplinary team meets to discuss each patient’s case in detail and to design a personalized treatment plan. Your team may include your oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist, genetics counselor, pathologist, nutritionist, interventional radiologist and researchers focused on you. This meeting of the minds provides each patient with an individualized care plan to create the path for the most successful outcome. Our approach emphasizes open communication, collaborating with each other personally and through one of the most advanced electronic medical records systems in the country.