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Lung Cancer

Spots or growths that appear on the lungs don’t always point to cancer. Nonetheless, suspicious nodules or tumors should be thoroughly examined by a qualified physician expert. At NorthShore, our thoracic surgeons have extensive experience caring for patients with both benign and malignant conditions of the lung.

Noncancerous nodules can develop for several reasons, such as prior bacterial or fungal infections. They generally don’t require anything more than regular checkups. A key aspect of lung cancer treatment is early detection. If caught early, before it has had a chance to become larger and/or spread outside the chest cavity, lung cancer can frequently be successfully treated. Working as part of the multidisciplinary Kellogg Cancer Center team, our dedicated general thoracic specialists have a proven track record of achieving optimal surgical outcomes for patients. Patients who are newly diagnosed with lung cancer have the added support of a specialized oncology nurse navigator to guide them through their lung cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Lung Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

NorthShore’s emphasis on early detection allows our experienced team of specialists to diagnose a greater proportion of early stage lung cancer cases, which are more likely to be treated with minimally invasive techniques leading to improved outcomes.

An active participant in the International Early Lung Cancer Action Project (I-ELCAP)  for more than a decade, NorthShore has been an early advocate for appropriate CT scan, a type of lung cancer screening for high-risk patients. The use of CT scans for people at high risk for developing lung cancer has been linked to a dramatic 20 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths.

NorthShore offers screening with low-dose computed tomography (CT) for people at high risk for lung cancer, the only recommended screening test for the disease.  Medicare and many insurance companies now cover this diagnostic lung cancer screening for patients who meet certain criteria.

NorthShore's expert pathology department ensures that a majority of lung cancer screenings, tests and novel diagnostics are completed in house, providing swift results and thus beginning life-saving lung cancer treatment as early as possible. 

Surgical Treatment Options for Lung Cancer

For individuals with early stage lung cancer, surgery to remove the tumor, with and/or without chemotherapy, offers the greatest chance for a cure. For more than a decade, NorthShore has been a leader in offering innovative surgical techniques for treating lung cancer. Skilled in performing minimally invasive thoracoscopic surgery, our thoracic surgeons treat more than 95 percent of early stage lung cancer cases with this approach. Involving small incisions in the chest, minimally invasive lung resection offers patients less pain and faster recovery times than traditional open surgery. The procedure involves cutting out (surgically resecting) the diseased lung tissue containing the cancerous nodules.

Surgical resection may not be possible for patients with advanced lung cancer. For these individuals, we offer palliative treatment options to ease and improve symptoms, including:

  • Pleurodesis or pleurex, a drainage procedure for the removal of excess fluid around the lungs that may be causing shortness of breath
  • Stenting or ablation to remove blockages of the airway for better oxygen flow to and from the lungs

Not all cancers originate in the lungs themselves. Sometimes cancers start in another part of the body and spread to the lungs. Some patients benefit from the removal of these malignant areas, with the majority able to take advantage of minimally-invasive procedures offered at NorthShore. Working closely with medical oncology and other specialty areas, our surgeons develop a surgical plan tailored to each individual’s unique situation. 

For More Information

To schedule an appointment with one of our thoracic surgeons, please call 847.570.2868.