It’s lung cancer.
There’s a lot to process, and a lot to learn. We’re here to help.
If you’ve just been diagnosed with lung cancer, in many ways it is the beginning of the most important period of your life. And we want you to know there is hope.
You now know where you stand.
And we can begin to help.
Throughout your Care Plan and beyond, know that we’ll be with you, helping you navigate this new and unfamiliar chapter in your life. We marry the clinical with the compassionate, providing you the precise care, and caring, you need.
You’ll probably have many questions as you progress through your Care Plan. Whether they are about treatment, your eligibility for clinical trials, your curiosity about educational classes and programs, or any of our many other resources available, we are here to answer any and all of them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is lung cancer and what causes it?
Lung cancer forms in the tissues of the lungs, usually in cells lining the air passages. Those air passages include several parts of the body’s breathing system.
When we breathe, air travels down the trachea, which divides into bronchial tubes that connect to the right and left lungs. These bronchial tubes branch off into smaller and smaller tubes that end in little sacs called alveoli. This is where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged with the blood during breathing.
There are two different types of cancer that affect these air passages. The most common type is non-small cell lung cancer. The other type is small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is rare and almost exclusively found in heavy smokers.
It is widely known that the primary cause of lung cancer is cigarette smoking. There are other causes, though, such as exposure to asbestos, radon and second-hand smoke.
Where do I find more information on lung cancer?
There’s a lot of information about lung cancer on the Web and in bookstores. We recommend you start with the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute for their comprehensive expertise. From there you’ll find more resources. Visit these websites for more information on lung cancer:
Is lung cancer treatable?
Yes. There are different lung cancer treatment options, and they depend on the type and stage of the cancer. Additional factors determining the kind of treatment include your age and health. Talk to your doctor about the stage of your cancer and how it will likely respond to treatment options.
What does it mean if my cancer spreads? How does it happen?
Cancer spreads when the tumor’s cancer cells enter the blood stream or the lymph nodes. This spreading is referred to as “metastasis,” and the cancer is referred to as metastatic cancer. Because the metastatic cells are from the original cancer, referred to as the “primary,” the cancer is still the original cancer, although existing now in another part of the body. For example:
- If lung cancer metastasizes into the breast, the tumor that forms in the breast is made up of lung cancer cells. It is still lung cancer, even though it’s now located in the breast.
Treatment for metastatic cancer will depend on where it began (its primary source), the location and size of the metastatic cancer, previous cancer treatments and the patient’s health.
Does OhioHealth treat lung cancer?
Yes. We provide lung cancer patients with the best care available in the battle of this serious disease. We have an experienced team of physicians from all specialties who offer state-of-the-art treatment.
What are the different stages of lung cancer?
The stages of lung cancer are determined according to the two different types of lung cancer – small cell and non-small cell lung cancer.
Here’s how the National Cancer Institute describes the stages of lung cancer. This picture of the lungs helps visualize the affected parts in the staging.
Stages of non-small cell lung cancer
Occult stage: Lung cancer cells are found in sputum or in a sample of water collected during bronchoscopy, but a tumor cannot be seen in the lung.
Stage 0: Cancer cells are found only in the innermost lining of the lung. The tumor has not grown through this lining. A Stage 0 tumor is also called carcinoma in situ. The tumor is not an invasive cancer.
Stage IA: The lung tumor is an invasive cancer. It has grown through the innermost lining of the lung into deeper lung tissue. The tumor is no more than 3 centimeters across (less than 1¼ inches). It is surrounded by normal tissue, and the tumor does not invade the bronchus. Cancer cells are not found in nearby lymph nodes.
Stage IB: The tumor is larger or has grown deeper, but cancer cells are not found in nearby lymph nodes. The lung tumor is one of the following:
- It is more than 3 centimeters across.
- It has grown into the main bronchus.
- It has grown through the lung into the pleura.
Stage IIA: The lung tumor is no more than 3 centimeters across. Cancer cells are found in nearby lymph nodes.
Stage IIB: The tumor is one of the following:
- Cancer cells are not found in nearby lymph nodes, but the tumor has invaded the chest wall, diaphragm, pleura, main bronchus or tissue that surrounds the heart.
- Cancer cells are found in nearby lymph nodes, and one of the following:
- The tumor is more than 3 centimeters across.
- It has grown into the main bronchus.
- t has grown through the lung into the pleura.
Stage IIIA: The tumor may be any size. Cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes near the lungs and bronchi, and in the lymph nodes between the lungs but on the same side of the chest as the lung tumor.
Stage IIIB: The tumor may be any size. Cancer cells are found on the opposite side of the chest from the lung tumor or in the neck. The tumor may have invaded nearby organs, such as the heart, esophagus or trachea. More than one malignant growth may be found within the same lobe of the lung. The doctor may find cancer cells in the pleural fluid.
Stage IV: Malignant growths may be found in more than one lobe of the same lung or in the other lung. Or cancer cells may be found in other parts of the body, such as the brain, adrenal gland, liver or bone.
Recurrence: This is cancer that has been treated and has returned after a period of time when the cancer could not be detected. The disease may return in the lung or in another part of the body.
Stages of small cell lung cancer
• Limited stage: Cancer is found only in one lung and its nearby tissues.
• Extensive stage: Cancer is found in tissues of the chest outside of the lung in which it began. Or cancer is found in distant organs.
How serious is my lung cancer diagnosis?
We understand this is the biggest question for someone newly diagnosed with any cancer. The answer you’re looking for, however, is individual to you — just as it is individual to other lung cancer patients — and so cannot be generalized in an FAQ.
At OhioHealth, we have the advanced technology to diagnose and treat this disease. We have highly skilled and experienced physicians who know how to fight it.
It’s important to talk to your doctor about the seriousness of your lung cancer diagnosis with a friend or family member present to help you hear and remember the information your doctor shares with you. Ask your doctor to explain the stage your cancer is in and what that means for your treatment and recovery. Share with your doctor your fears and concerns.
Will surgery be part of my treatment?
Whether surgery will be considered part of your treatment depends on your individual cancer condition, as well as how well you would respond to surgery. Your doctor and others on your Cancer Care Team will work closely with you to help determine treatment options best for you.
Does OhioHealth offer any clinical trials for lung cancer?
Talk to your doctor about your interest in participating in a clinical trial for lung cancer. Your doctor will be able to give you information about any trials for lung cancer going on at OhioHealth.
At Riverside Methodist, all lung cancer patients are evaluated for acceptance into a lung cancer research trial. Those who are accepted receive support and information from a specially trained research nurse and lifelong follow-up.
Also visit the National Cancer Institute’s website for information on clinical trials
to help you learn more about clinical trials so that you may have an informed discussion with your doctor.
Want more answers? Browse all of the OhioHealth cancer patient FAQs.