At the Total Lung Care Center, we ensure that each and every lung cancer patient is provided with individualized, comprehensive, cutting-edge care, from screening through survivorship.
Our multidisciplinary team of experts is dedicated to achieving the best outcomes. We utilize comprehensive diagnostic procedures and advanced treatment technologies, all while providing a wide range of supportive services. From our innovative lung cancer screening program to personalized follow-up care, the Total Lung Care Center team is committed to meeting your unique physical and emotional needs.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the US and has historically had the highest cancer mortality rates in both men and women. Our online Learning Center has up-to-date, evidence-based information about numerous topics related to lung cancer, including diagnostic tests, treatment options, managing treatment side effects, and more.
These resources are not a substitute for the guidance of your physician but can help you learn more about lung cancer and what to expect during treatment.
Most people with lung cancer do not have symptoms until the disease is in its later stages. Symptoms may include:
- a cough that doesn't go away and gets worse over time
- constant chest pain
- shortness of breath or wheezing
- frequent lung infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia
- coughing up blood
- weight Loss
- loss of appetite
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to discuss them with your primary care physician.
Smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, and according to the American Cancer Society, 80% of lung cancer deaths are in those who had a significant smoking history. The longer you smoke and the more packs a day you smoke, the greater your risk. Secondhand smoke exposure also increases your risk for developing lung cancer.
Other risk factors can include:
- older age
- radon exposure
- asbestos exposure
- carcinogen exposure
- air pollution
- history of chest radiation for a previous cancer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women - therefore, detecting lung cancers in their earliest, most treatable stages is essential.
- Early stage lung cancer usually does not have symptoms, so lung screening is recommended for those with a high risk of lung cancer. You qualify for lung cancer screening if you:
- are between the ages of 55 and 80
- have at least a 30-pack year smoking history
- currently smoke or quit within the past 15 years
Key Facts About Lung Cancer Screening
- Lung cancer screenings consist of a low-dose CT scan that utilizes less than 25% of the radiation in a standard CT scan.
- The procedure takes less than 30 minutes and is covered for those at high risk by private insurances, Medicare, and Medicaid.
If you meet the above criteria, please call your primary care physician to discuss having a lung screening exam ordered at Middlesex Health.
There are several diagnostic tests available for lung cancer.
- Chest Radiograph: An imaging test that uses small amounts of radiation to produce pictures of the chest. These images are used to look for abnormalities or diseases of the airways, blood vessels, heart, and lungs.
- Chest CT Scan: A Chest CT is similar to a chest radiograph, but it produces more detailed pictures of the organs and tissues of the chest. If an abnormality is seen on a chest radiograph, your doctor will likely perform a Chest CT.
- Pulmonary Function Tests: A group of tests that measure how well your lungs work. These will measure how well you’re able to breathe and how effective your lungs are in bringing oxygen to the rest of the body.
- Lung Biopsy: A tissue sampling biopsy is required to confirm the presence of lung cancer. Your doctor - either a pulmonologist or interventional radiologist - will remove a small amount of tissue from your lungs and examine it to check for abnormal and cancerous cells. There are a number of factors that determine how the tissue sample is collected, including:
- the location of the lung abnormality
- your baseline lung function
- your other risk factors
- PET Scan: This imagining scan of the entire body is used to determine if cancer has spread beyond the lungs. PET scans can sometimes detect disease before it shows up on other imaging tests but usually takes place after your lung cancer diagnosis has been confirmed by your biopsy.
- Brain MRI: This is the gold standard test to rule out spread of lung cancer to the brain. A contrast material is injected into a vein before imaging scans of the brain are taken.
The evidence-based treatment plan your doctors choose is based on a number of factors: type of cancer, grade and stage of the cancer, your overall health, and your treatment preferences.
Surgery is the cornerstone of therapy for early-stage lung cancers. There are several surgical techniques - including da Vinci® Robot-Assisted Thoracic Surgery - that may be utilized to treat and cure lung cancer. A thoracic surgeon will evaluate the appropriateness of surgery and the most effective methodology based on an individual’s tumor location, baseline lung function, and comorbidities.
Chemotherapy for lung cancer involves the use of medications to shrink or kill cancerous cells.
The board-certified medical oncologists, nurses, and technicians at Connecticut Oncology Group provide the most effective, advanced care with warm, personal attention and support for patients and their families. Your medical oncology team will work closely with your other providers and help provide access to clinical trials.
Radiation oncology is the highly-controlled use of radiation to cure or treat symptoms your cancer.