Lung Cancer Screening
Lung cancer is particularly deadly, in part because it is typically advanced by the time symptoms appear, making early detection extra important. Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) can help find lung cancer in the earliest stages. An LDCT uses a small amount of radiation to make detailed images of your lungs, which a radiologist analyzes. LDCT uses a much lower dose of radiation than a regular CT scan when screening for lung cancer, and the scan takes only a few minutes.
How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?
A range of diagnostic tests can help determine whether lung cancer is present, to which stage it has developed, and which treatment will be most effective.
Positron emission tomography (PET) uses a very small amount of a radioactive substance called a tracer to detect cancerous cells in the lungs. PET scans and combination PET/CT scans help determine whether nodules in the lung are benign or malignant. PET scanning also helps determine whether a biopsy is necessary, where radiation therapy could be used, or where surgery should be done.
In a navigational bronchoscopy, a small tube with a tiny light and camera is passed through the nose or mouth and into the lungs so doctors can see the airways and capture photographs. Bronchoscopies help locate, biopsy, and sometimes treat hard-to-reach lung tumors. This procedure can be done on an outpatient basis, sparing you from more invasive diagnostic surgical approaches.
In an endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) bronchoscopy, a thin tube with an ultrasound probe—which uses sound waves to produce images—is passed through the windpipe to view the lungs and create images of the lymph nodes, giving doctors a more detailed picture than other scans. Endobronchial ultrasound is also used to identify and biopsy central lymph nodes in the chest to see if they contain cancer cells.
DNA Sequencing determines the order of the four chemical building blocks of DNA. Doctors can test the biology of your cancer to see if you can be matched with the anticancer drugs that target the molecules fueling its growth.
Comprehensive Treatments for Lung Cancer
NewYork-Presbyterian provides a comprehensive range of lung cancer treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy.
Minimally invasive surgery
At NewYork-Presbyterian, we use minimally invasive surgical approaches whenever appropriate, resulting in smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery for lung cancer patients.
- Video-assisted thoracoscopic (VATS) lobectomy - Whereas traditional thoracotomy requires spreading ribs apart to operate on the lungs, a VATS lobectomy uses much smaller incisions that don't require spreading the ribs, resulting in a less painful surgery and faster recovery time
- Robotic surgery - Some lobectomy procedures can be performed with robotics, in which the surgeon sits at a console and uses controls to operate the various arms and cameras of the robot. The approach allows for greater magnification of the surgical field and more precision with surgical instruments.
Surgical options are typically recommended as lung cancer treatments when cancer is localized and unlikely to spread to other organs in the body. Oncologists and surgeons work together to provide multidisciplinary treatment plans. Our surgeons specialize in the conventional, complex, and laparoscopic treatment of tumors, including experimental therapies and advanced surgical techniques.
Chemotherapy is the infusion of chemicals into the body to kill cancerous cells, typically intravenously, but new advances in lung cancer treatment include oral chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can be given on its own or in combination with radiation, surgery, or immunotherapy.
- Presurgical chemotherapy - Patients with non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in the chest and who are referred for surgery may benefit from chemotherapy or immunotherapy given prior to surgery
- Chemotherapy after surgery - Commonly recommended following complete surgical removal of lung tumors depending on the size and spread of cancer
- Targeted therapies - Taking more direct aim at cancer cells than standard chemotherapy, targeted therapies shut down certain proteins that cancer cells need to grow. These include osimertinib, crizotinib, capmatanib, and more. Targeted therapies may be recommended for more advanced lung cancers and some localized ones.
- Immunotherapy - The use of drugs, such as pembrolizumab and nivolumab, to boost the immune system so that it can better discover and kill cancer cells
Precise radiation therapy
NewYork-Presbyterian's radiation oncologists use 3D imagery to deliver radiation to lung cancer cells while reducing radiation exposure to nearby healthy tissue. This approach allows us to target tumors may have been considered too close to vital organs to treat previously. We sometimes use radiation in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy for lung cancer treatment. Our radiation therapy units feature the latest highly precise radiation delivery equipment.
NewYork-Presbyterian is a world leader in cancer care and immunotherapy. We have a robust research program with clinical trials focused on new immunotherapies and novel ways of combining immunotherapy with other cancer treatments. The only way patients can access these specialized treatments is through these pivotal clinical trials, typically found only at academic medical centers such as ours.
- Our scientists have found that lung cancer attracts circulating immune cells, reprogramming them to support its growth and spread. Understanding this process will allow doctors to design treatments that prevent or reverse these events.
- NewYork-Presbyterian has a strong lung cancer immunotherapy program. Scientists are also investigating genetic mutations that may govern how well a patient responds to immunotherapy such as pembrolizumab. You may receive FDA-approved immunotherapy for lung cancer (such as nivolumab or pembrolizumab) or be eligible to participate in a clinical trial of an investigational treatment.
Lung cancer often produces chest pain, made worse by breathing deeply, laughing, or coughing, and a cough that won't go away.
Lung cancer survival rates depend on how early cancer is detected and to which stage it has progressed, as well as whether it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or to other organs in the body.
If you are coughing up blood, experiencing chest pain when coughing or breathing deeply, or have a cough that won't go away, you should contact your doctor for lung cancer screening.
Approximately 10-20% of cigarette smokers develop lung cancer.
The first signs of lung cancer include wheezing, unexplained weight loss, shortness of breath, coughing, and fatigue.
Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Lung Cancer Treatment
Schedule an appointment at NewYork-Presbyterian, where our doctors will help you understand your symptoms, explain the various types of lung cancer, and detail the treatment options available.