What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the lung grow and get out of control. They disrupt the activity of healthy tissue surrounding them, so your lungs cannot function as well as they normally would.

What are Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer can go undiagnosed because people don’t normally notice anything is wrong early on. Even when they do have symptoms, the ones they do have — such as a chronic cough — may be attributed to other health issues. Many people with lung cancer do not have symptoms until the disease is in its later stages. Symptoms may present themselves differently in each person.

If you believe you are at risk for lung cancer, speak to your physician about scheduling a lung cancer screening.

Common symptoms:

  • Coughing that is persistent or gets worse
  • Blood in mucous
  • Chest pain that is constant or more difficult with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Frequent respiratory infections (e.g., bronchitis and pneumonia)
  • Pain in your chest, upper back, or shoulder that doesn’t go away or worsens with deep breathing
  • Wheezing

Less common symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bone pain or fractures
  • Blood clots
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Swelling in the face or neck

How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed and Treated?


Doctors can use several tests to diagnose lung cancer. It is important that you share all symptoms, your medical history, and any known risks with your physician to ensure appropriate testing and diagnosis.

The following are examples of tests your doctor may use to diagnose your lung cancer:

  • Imaging studies: chest x-ray (CXR), computed tomography (CT), low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) — a special type of MRI
  • Biopsy is a surgical procedure that involves removing a piece of tissue from the affected area and sending it to a lab to see if the tissue is cancerous
  • Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) and endoscopic esophageal ultrasound (EUS) is used to view lymph nodes
  • Thoracentesis involves examining the fluid around your lungs for cancer cells
  • Sputum cytology is a technique that examines your mucous for cancer cells


Lung nodules are abnormal spots commonly discovered incidentally on imaging studies or during low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scans. While most nodules are benign, some may be cancerous. If a nodule is found, a multidisciplinary team of expert specialists in our Lung Center will evaluate your nodule.

Lung Cancer Types

At Capital Health, we treat all types of lung cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Their names are based on their appearance under the microscope. Each grows differently and requires different treatment methods.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

This is the most common type of cancer representing about 80% to 85% of lung cancers. The main subtypes are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

Between 10% to 15% percent of all lung cancer cases are SCLC. This fast-growing cancer is commonly diagnosed in an advanced stage.


The following are treatment options for lung cancer:

Clinical Trials and Research

Some patients may benefit by participating in a clinical trial. In fact, most of today’s treatments for cancer are based on clinical trials.

Scheduling a Lung Cancer Screening

Our lung cancer screening navigator will help you determine your eligibility and schedule your screening. For patients who fit the criteria, most insurance providers, including Medicare, cover lung cancer CT screenings.

To learn more about lung screenings click here or book an appointment by calling 1-844-303-LUNG (5864).