Lung Cancer - What to Know

Center of Excellence for Lung Cancer ScreeningKentucky ranks #1 in lung cancer deaths. Beat the odds - call 502-210-4497 to schedule a lung cancer screening.

Smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancers in the U.S., but early detection can increase your chances of survival by nearly 50 percent. If you’re 50 or older and have a history of heavy smoking, you can detect lung cancer early – at its most treatable stage – with a simple, low-dose CT scan. Our lung cancer screening is safe, effective and it could save your life. 

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. Lung cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer in both men and women—more deadly than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.

What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

The most common symptom for lung cancer is a persistent cough. Other symptoms include hoarseness, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, wheezing, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia and chest pain. If you experience any of the above symptoms frequently, you should speak with your physician.

Am I At Risk For Lung Cancer?

The most frequent causes of lung cancer are smoking, radon, second-hand smoke and exposure to cancer-causing substances such as asbestos. If you are exposed to any of the above listed and have symptoms, you should speak with your doctor.

How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?

There are other tests and procedures that are used to diagnose lung cancer. UofL Health offers lung cancer screening that is performed using a low-dose CT Scan. CT Scans of the chest have proved to be safe and effective for screening people at risk. These tests help the doctor determine the type and extent of lung cancer development. These may include:

  • Chest X-ray - An x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest
  • Bronchoscopy - This test allow the physician to visualize the breathing tubes through a lighted tube or bronchoscope and obtain sample of tissue or fluids for further examination under a microscope.
  • Needle Biopsy - A needle is inserted through the skin into the area of the suspicious tumor. A sample of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to see if there are cancer cells present.
  • CT Scan - A computer linked to a x-ray machine creates a series of 3-dimensional internal pictures of the body.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) - A strong magnet linked to an x-ray machine and computer creates 3-dimensional internal pictures of the body.
  • Bone Scan - A harmless amount of dye is injected into the bloodstream. It collects in areas of abnormal bone growth. A scanner measures the levels of the dye in these areas and records them on x-ray film for viewing.
  • Pulmonary Function Testing - This tests lung function by measuring air flow into and out of the lungs and can indicate whether or not there is a blockage in the airway.
  • Pulse Oximetry - A test evaluating lung function by measuring the amount of oxygen present in the bloodstream.
  • PET Scan - A procedure to find malignant tumor cells in the body. A small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein. The PET scanner rotates around the body and makes a picture of where glucose is being used in the body. Malignant tumor cells show up brighter in the picture because they are more active and use more glucose than normal cells do.
  • Physical Exam - Chest examination for abnormal breathing sound. An examination of the neck/collarbone and chest for swollen or enlarged areas may also be performed.
  • Sputum Cytology - Examination of sputum or phlegm under a microscope to see if they appear normal or cancerous.
  • Thoracoscopy - A surgical procedure to look at the organs inside the chest to check for abnormal areas. An incision (cut) is made between two ribs and a thoracoscope is inserted into the chest. A thoracoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue or lymph node samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer. In some cases, this procedure is used to remove part of the esophagus or lung. If certain tissues, organs, or lymph nodes can’t be reached, a thoracotomy may be done. In this procedure, a larger incision is made between the ribs and the chest is opened.
  • Thoracentesis - The removal of fluid from the space between the lining of the chest and the lung, using a needle. A pathologist views the fluid under a microscope to look for cancer cells.

These tests are offered at a wide variety of our facilities.

How is Lung Cancer Treated?

There are three types of treatment typically used to treat lung cancer. All of the below treatments are offered at a UofL Health facility. To find out more, call 502-210-4497.

  • Surgery - The thoracic surgeon specialists at UofL Health will assist you in determining the best type of surgery for your case. 

  • Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) - A procedure performed using a small video camera that is introduced into the patient's chest via a scope. With the video camera, the surgeon is able to view the anatomy along with other surgical instruments that are introduced into the chest via small incisions or "ports." Traditional surgical approaches have utilized a single large incision (cut) that is placed between the patient's ribs. The ribs are then spread apart, allowing the surgeon to look directly into the patient's chest and perform surgery. These incisions are known as thoracotomies, and while very safe, are uncomfortable. By utilizing VATS, the larger incision can be avoided, decreasing the post-operative pain, decreasing the length of stay in the hospital after surgery and increasing the overall rate of recovery.

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy

Most early developing lung cancer can be treated by surgery alone. In more advanced lung cancers, where the cancer has involved other areas of the body, radiation and chemotherapy are preferred. In some cases, surgery may be an option following initial treatment with chemotherapy or radiation to shrink the tumor.

How Can I Learn More?

The Lung Cancer Program at UofL Health is helping to save one life at a time and helping people continue to live with cancer. Call 502-210-4497 to schedule your screening at one of our convenient locations.