Lung Cancer Overview

Lung Cancer IllustrationWhat is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is cancer that occurs in several different kinds of cells in the lungs. As with other cancers, lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control leading to a buildup of extra cells that can form a tumor or spread to other parts of the body.

Facts about lung cancer:
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. However, the most common type—non-small cell lung cancer—can sometimes be cured if it is found early enough. Treatment involves surgery to remove the part of the lung that has cancer. Unfortunately, about 90% of the people diagnosed with lung cancer die from the disease, in large part, because it is often not found until the cancer is already at an advanced stage.

Smoking causes roughly 85% of all lung cancers, and smoking remains the biggest risk factor in developing the disease. How much a person smokes and how long a person smokes also affects lung cancer risk, as does age. Most lung cancers occur in people 55 and older.

The most important way to reduce the risks of developing lung cancer is to stop smoking and to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. People who quit smoking greatly reduce their risk of developing and dying from lung cancer. In addition, people who quit smoking will continue to see their risk go down over time. Visit our smoking cessation page for information on programs to help quit smoking at Gwinnett Medical Center.

Lung cancer treatment: an overview
If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, your doctor will determine the stage (extent) of the cancer and suggest a treatment plan. Treatment and surgical options for non-small cell lung cancer can vary, but the most common are:

  • surgery—either open, minimally invasive or robotic surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System
  • chemotherapy
  • radiation therapy
  • a combination of treatments

For additional information on lung cancer:
Lung Cancer Alliance
Screening for Lung Cancer
American Lung Association

For additional help with smoking cessation:
American Lung Association
American Cancer Association
Lung Cancer Alliance

To speak to with our Thoracic Oncology Nurse navigator who can help patients undergoing lung cancer screening or who have been diagnosed with lung and chest cancer, call Nancy McCormick at 678-312-3189.

For a physician referral, call 678-312-5000 or click here.