Lung Cancer

Know the risk factors and symptoms of lung cancer, and your options to fight it.

Lung cancer is the third-most commonly diagnosed cancer (skin cancer is first, with prostate cancer second in men, and breast cancer second in women). But it is the leading cause of cancer death. While a lung cancer diagnosis may be terrifying, our thoracic cancer team is dedicated to providing advanced lung cancer treatment.

This team, along with specialists from the Henry Ford Center for Lung Health, treats more than 500 lung cancer patients every year. We perform complex airway and lung surgeries, including robot-assisted and minimally invasive procedures, in an effort to save as much healthy lung tissue as possible.

We also offer a free Survivorship Workshop Series to provide support and education from the moment of diagnosis through recovery.

What are the different types of lung cancer?

Lung tumors -- clusters of cancerous, or abnormal, cells -- can affect the way the lungs work and how well you breathe. These tumors can shed cancer cells that may then travel to other parts of the body through blood or lymph, a fluid found in the lungs.

Treatment options will depend on the type of lung cancer you have. There are two main types of lung cancer:

  • Non-small-cell: About 85 percent of all lung cancers are non-small-type. This includes squamous-cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large-cell carcinoma.
  • Small-cell: Also known as oat cell cancer, this type spreads quickly.

Am I at risk for lung cancer?

The leading risk factor for lung cancer is smoking. According to the American Cancer Society, at least 80 percent of lung cancer deaths result from smoking.

However, even nonsmokers can get lung cancer. Other risk factors include:

  • Secondhand smoke
  • Family history
  • Air pollution
  • Exposure to asbestos
  • Exposure to environmental toxins such as:
    • Radioactive materials, including radon and uranium
    • Arsenic in drinking water
    • Inhaled chemicals such as cadmium, silica, coal products, vinyl chloride and others

What lung cancer symptoms should I be aware of?

Unfortunately, you may not notice any signs of lung cancer until the disease is advanced. Some symptoms may include:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Persistent cough that won’t go away
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss

How will my lung cancer be diagnosed?

If the doctor suspects lung cancer, they may order one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Imaging tests: These tests take pictures of the inside of the body and may include a chest X-ray, CT scan, PET scan, or bone scan.
  • Biopsy: If something in the lung looks suspicious, the doctor may need to take a tissue sample the your lung for further testing. We offer many minimally invasive methods for sampling tissue that are quick and painless, including bronchoscopy and endobronchial ultrasound.

What are my lung cancer treatment options?

We’ll develop a treatment plan specific to your cancer, health needs, and priorities. We may recommend chemotherapy, radiation oncology, surgery, or a combination of these.

Your lung cancer treatment also may include:

  • Ablation and therapeutic techniques: These treatments destroy cancer cells, stop bleeding, and help you breathe better.
  • Interventional pulmonology program: We have the only comprehensive program in Michigan. We offer advanced bronchoscopy procedures to relieve symptoms and widen airways to help you breathe easier.
  • Lung cancer surgery: We perform a full range of surgical options, and we use a minimally invasive approach whenever possible.

We participate in a number of clinical trials to test for new lung cancer treatments. Talk with your doctor about whether you may qualify for a clinical trial.

Talk with our Cancer Nurse 24/7

Call us at (888) 777-4167

Clinical Trials

Cancer Institute