Lung cancer is cancer that starts in the lungs. There are two main types of lung cancer:
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer.
- Small cell lung cancer makes up about 20% of all lung cancer cases.
If the lung cancer is made up of both types, it is called mixed small cell/large cell cancer. If the cancer started somewhere else in the body and spread to the lungs, it is called metastatic cancer to the lung. Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, FL, offers a comprehensive range of screenings, diagnostic tests and treatments for both non-small cell, small cell and mixed small cell lung cancers. Our highly specialized team of oncologists, radiologists and surgeons will deliver superior, attentive care from diagnosis through treatment and follow-up, and you can always rest assured that you are receiving the most innovative, technologically advanced lung cancer treatments available.
What Causes Lung Cancer?
Approximately 85 percent of lung cancer is caused by tobacco use. Therefore, the majority of lung cancer is preventable. Additional factors responsible for lung cancer include family history, or exposure to asbestos, radon or second-hand smoke.
Lung cancer is difficult to detect early. If lung cancer is suspected or patients have risk factors for lung cancer, a chest X-ray may be helpful. Further radiographic diagnostic studies may include a low-dose lung CT (computed tomography) scan or PET (positron emission tomography) scan. A thorough evaluation of the airways can be performed with a bronchoscopy, utilizing a flexible lighted scope and biopsy equipment. Other diagnostic techniques may include a sputum test, a biopsy, an endoscopic esophageal ultrasound, or a thoracentesis (procedure to remove fluid from between the lungs and chest wall). Complete evaluation and staging of lung cancer is important for optimum treatment.
Treatment Options for Lung Cancer
The treatment for lung cancer can include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Your doctor will discuss the best type of treatment for you based on a variety of factors, including:
- Type of cancer
- How far the cancer has spread
- Where in the lung the cancer is located
Outpatient chemotherapy is available at the Powell Pavilion on Morton Plant Hospital's campus, while outpatient radiation therapy, including the Trilogy Linear Accelerator, is available at the Lykes Radiation Pavilion.
Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS)
One of the advanced techniques for the treatment of lung cancer is video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS). VATS is a minimally invasive surgical technique used to see inside the chest cavity or thorax.
Traditional open thoracic surgery requires a large incision in the chest to cut through muscle and spread open the ribs. With VATS, surgeons insert a long, thin tube (videoscope) with a camera attached and small surgical instruments into the patient's chest through two to four tiny cuts made between the ribs. Each opening is less than one inch in diameter, whereas six-to-10-inch incisions are not uncommon in open thoracic surgery.
VATS has greatly impacted the treatment of lung cancer. When a growth is detected and suspected of being malignant, VATS gives surgeons the latitude to reach treatment decisions during a VATS procedure. VATS techniques can collect a tissue sample to confirm whether the growth is malignant. If so, surgeons can decide whether to provide a wedge resection, the removal of a small section of lung; or a lobectomy, the removal of one of the lobes in a lung, all of which occurs during the same minimally invasive VATS procedure.
Patients who have been operated on using the VATS technique experience less pain, less scarring, a shorter hospital stay and usually return to normal activities quicker than patients who undergo traditional thoracic surgery.
For a free physician referral, please call the BayCare Customer Service Center at (727) 462-7500 or find a specialist near you. You can also take our free online risk assessment for lung cancer.