Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is defined as a cancer arising directly from the lung tissue – most commonly cells that line the airways. The two most common lung cancers are (a) non-small cell lung cancer, about 80% of cases, and (b) small cell lung cancer, about 20% of cases. The majority of lung cancers are caused by tobacco smoke exposure, but 10-15% of cases occur in individuals with any history of tobacco use. New cases of lung cancer will frequently cause a new cough or change in a chronic cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or coughing up blood. Many cases are found in individuals without any new breathing symptoms from Chest Xrays or CT scans  taken for other reasons, for example, a chest xray ordered for an employment physical or before a surgical procedure.

The diagnosis of lung cancer requires a biopsy, most commonly performed with a procedure called bronchoscopy. The bronchoscopy procedure, performed by Dr. Garver using deep sedation, involves the passage of a bronchoscope through the nose into the lungs after which forceps or needles are used to sample the abnormal tissue identified on the chest imaging studies. In some cases, a CT-guided needle biopsy or even a surgical biopsy may be recommended based on the specific clinical situation. Additional testing is often performed after the bronchoscopy. If lung cancer is identified, Dr. Garver will direct you to the appropriate physician for either surgery, or chemotherapy/radiotherapy.

For more information, go to American Cancer Society Section on Lung Cancer.

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