Lung Cancer Symptoms, Treatment & Surgery
Questions About Lung Cancer?
We’re here to help. Contact our Oncology Nurse Navigator, Melissa Ronk, RN, OCN, at 203-276-CARE. Press 3.
Plus, learn more about our lung cancer screening program.
World-Class Lung Cancer Care
Our Bennett Cancer Center has a multidisciplinary team approach to your lung cancer care. Our mission is to be there for you at the stages of prevention, detection, diagnosis, and lung cancer treatment.
What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. There are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (most common) and small cell lung cancer.
Symptoms of lung cancer:
- Incessant coughing
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Unintentional weight loss
Risk factors for developing lung cancer:
According to the American Cancer Society, about 80% of lung cancer deaths are thought to result from smoking. Though people who have never smoked and have no other known risk factors can also develop the disease.
Additional risk factors include:
- Secondhand smoke exposure
- Exposure to radon
- Exposure to asbestos
- Previous radiation therapy to lungs
- Air pollution
- Family history of lung cancer
Lung cancer prevention and detection
Stamford Health strives to:
- Educate the community at all age levels about the risks of tobacco use
- Offer one of the most proven lung cancer screening programs in the region. This method has proven effective in detection at the earliest and most curable stages
- Encourage our smoking cessation program run by specialists at our institution who will personally guide you every step of the way
- Connect you with a nurse navigator for a familiar face and voice throughout your care
Lung Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis:
If you need thoracic surgery, our thoracic oncology team will make sure you understand the process and level of care involved. Here’s why you can put your trust in our board-certified staff:
- We use the most modern techniques to treat lung cancer, esophageal cancer, pulmonary metastasis, mediastinal tumors and birth defects of the chest with small incisions, specialized video cameras and instrumentation, and robotic surgery.
- We offer surgical options that minimize the need to spread the ribs, which means less pain and a quicker recovery.
- We also specialize in high-risk surgery patients by offering more minimal resections like VATS segmentectomy and sublobar resection.
- We take into account our patients who can’t have surgery by offering minimally invasive procedures like CyberKnife®.
Our dedicated team of pulmonary specialists plays an integral role in our lung cancer program. We take the time to evaluate patients with lung nodules, enlarged lymph nodes, and pleural effusions. We also treat symptoms and diseases commonly associated with lung cancer such as cough, shortness of breath, and COPD/emphysema. This all takes place in our Pulmonary Function Laboratory, where we also offer diagnostic testing from standard lung function tests through cardiopulmonary exercise testing to help evaluate your options.
Diagnostic & Interventional Techniques
If you’re diagnosed with lung cancer, we offer a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic bronchoscopic techniques. Here’s a breakdown:
- We insert a telescope through the mouth into the airway, incision-free.
- Our pulmonology and surgical teams are skilled in advanced technology like linear and radial endobronchial ultrasounds and electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy. This allows us to properly diagnose you both efficiently and in the most minimally invasive way possible.
- We also offer a range of procedures if you have pleural disease, including ultrasound-guided thoracentesis, pleuroscopy, closed pleural biopsies, and pleurodesis.
- We aim to allay uncomfortable symptoms with techniques like laser airway resection and stenting, as well as placement of pleural catheters to make breathing easier.
The Department of Pathology at Stamford Hospital is unique in Fairfield County because it offers sophisticated lung cancer testing not available at other hospitals.
When a patient with a lung nodule undergoes a diagnostic biopsy, a Stamford Hospital pathologist is present to help make sure that the best possible specimen is obtained, and that the material obtained is triaged in such a way as to assure the diagnosis and secure additional testing needed for treatment. A pathologist immediately evaluates your biopsy at the time of your procedure.
Stamford Hospital is the only hospital in Connecticut with two fellowship-trained cytopathologists. These physicians specialize in cytopathology, and are experts in evaluating small biopsies.
Lung cancers are varied, and the determination of lung cancer type depends on immunohistochemistry (sophisticated tissue testing using antibodies directed at tumor proteins). This sophisticated testing is done at the Stamford Hospital Laboratory, which has the most state-of-the-art immunohistochemistry lab in Fairfield County.
Once a diagnosis of lung cancer is made and the type is established, the tumor is interrogated by more sophisticated molecular pathology tests. We routinely test lung adenocarcinomas for EGFR, Kras, ALK, and ROS because these tests determine the kind of drugs/chemotherapy a lung adenocarcinoma will respond to. Stamford Hospital has the only molecular pathologist in Fairfield County, who is skilled in evaluating this sophisticated testing.
Our Department of Medical Oncology-Hematology includes physicians who specialize in lung cancer. If you need systemic medication, your medical oncologist will review available options with you, including possible clinical research trials. Because we understand how complex the biology of lung cancer can be, here’s a simple checklist of what you can expect:
Learn more about medical oncology
Your physician will explain why a particular chemotherapy and/or targeted therapy approach has been selected, and, in a follow-up visit with a nurse practitioner, we’ll make sure you have a full understanding.
We’ll prepare your therapy in an on-site dedicated oncology pharmacy, administered by our oncology-certified nurses.
We pay special attention to your emotional, spiritual, and palliative needs. We’re happy to extend our palliative care and social work services through your challenging time.
- As always, we’re available at all times to answer questions, resolve problems, and provide support.
Stamford Hospital is the only facility in Westchester and Fairfield counties to offer robotic stereotactic radiation with CyberKnife for selected patients with lung cancer. For these patients, treatments are completed in 3-5 days with extreme precision and maximal sparing of normal tissues. For other patients not eligible for CyberKnife therapy, conventional state of the art conformal radiation techniques are used at the Bennett Cancer Center. High precision radiation therapy administered with compassion for our patients and their loved ones is our top priority. Radiation therapy is given five days a week, for five to seven consecutive weeks. The convenience of receiving treatment close to home minimizes the impact on patients’ and their families.
Learn more about radiation oncology
A multidisciplinary approach to your lung care:
In an effort to constantly improve your care, our team at Stamford Health holds a Thoracic Oncology Multidisciplinary Conference twice a month. A group of physicians, surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, and pulmonologists reviews your unique case in detail. This allows us to collectively offer the most efficient care plan for everyone going forward.
|The Bennett Cancer Center is recognized as a Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance. This recognition represents our ongoing commitment to responsible screenings for patients.