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Older man with lung cancer at Miami Cancer Institute

Lung Cancer

Expert Lung Cancer Care

Miami Cancer Institute physicians have extensive experience treating lung cancer patients.

Thoracic surgical oncologist Mark Dylewski, M.D., uses the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System to remove a lobe of the lung using the Dylewski Method – a treatment approach he developed to remove lung cancer without cutting or spreading the ribs. It is increasingly becoming the preferred technique of anatomic lobectomy, and Dr. Dylewski trains physicians from around the world in this innovative method.

About Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer among men and women in the U.S. It begins with abnormal cell growth is the tissues of the lungs, usually in the lining of the main air passages.

Lung cancer can spread through your lymph system to other parts of your body. Lymph fluid, which helps fight infection, travels through your body in vessels that are similar to veins and linked by lymph nodes. 

Lung cancers generally are classified into two types:

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for about 85 to 90 percent of all diagnoses. The types of non-small cell lung cancer are named for the types of cells and include:

  • Adenocarcinoma begins in cells that line the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place).
  • Squamous cell carcinoma, also called epidermoid carcinoma, begins in the thin, flat cells in the lungs.
  • Large cell carcinoma begins in large cells anywhere in the lungs.

Small cell lung cancer, also known as oat-cell cancer, accounts for less than 20 percent of lung cancer cases. In most cases, this cancer type is caused by tobacco smoking. It tends to spread quickly to other parts of the body.

  • Carcinoid tumor, salivary gland carcinoma, sarcoma and unclassified carcinoma are less common types of lung cancer.

Lung metastases are cancer that started elsewhere in the body and metastasized, or spread, to the lungs. The cancer type usually is classified by the original disease site.

Lung Cancer Risk Factors

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. More than 80 percent of lung cancer deaths can be attributed to smoking. Other risk factors include: (Link Smoking to Cancer Prevention in For Patients section)

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution and certain materials such as radiation, arsenic, radon, chromium, nickel, soot, tar and asbestos.
  • Personal history of lung illnesses such as emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and tuberculosis.
  • Radiation therapy to the breast or chest.
  • Family history of lung cancer.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer does not always have symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Chronic cough
  • Constant chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Recurring lung infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Bloody or rust-colored sputum
  • Hoarseness
  • Swelling of the neck and face
  • Pain and weakness in the shoulder, arm or hand
  • Fever

Like many other cancers, lung cancer can cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Headache
  • Pain in other parts of the body
  • Bone fractures

After conducting a physical exam and reviewing your health and family history, your physician will order various tests to diagnose and analyze your condition. An accurate diagnosis helps your medical team determine the best course of treatment. The most common tests for lung cancer include:

  • Chest X-rays that look for a mass or spot on the lungs.
  • Imaging tests, such as CT scan, PET scan, bone scan, MRI and ultrasound that show detailed images of the lungs and other parts of the body. (Link to Diagnostic Imaging in Treatments & Services)
  • Sputum cytology, to study mucus or phlegm cells.
  • Thoracentesis, to remove fluid from the chest wall and check for cancer cells
  • Bronchoscopy, which examines the bronchi using a thin flexible tube with a tiny camera. A bronchoscope also can take a small tissue sample for biopsy.
  • Fine-needle aspiration, using a small needle to remove a small amount of tissue for biopsy.

At Miami Cancer Institute, we offer the most advanced therapies for lung cancer performed by lung cancer specialists who have extraordinary expertise. Your care team collaborates to determine the best plan to fight your cancer based on the stage, location, genetic profile and your overall health. Caring professionals in our Cancer Patient Support Center provide a range of services to assist you and your family members from the time of your diagnosis through survivorship. (Link Patient Support Center to Patient Support Center)

Treatment options include one or more of the following:

  • Surgery, to remove parts of the lung, or bronchus, depending on the size and location of the tumor. Robotic surgery can result in less pain and trauma and a shorter hospital stay. Our surgeons are leaders in the field of robotic surgery, offering a minimally invasive way to remove lung cancer through tiny incisions in between the ribs, without spreading the breastbone. This technique, called the Dylewski method, was created by Miami Cancer Institute thoracic surgical oncologist Mark Dylewski, M.D.
  • Radiation therapy, using the most advanced platforms allows our world-renowned radiation oncologists to target lung cancer more precisely.
  • Proton therapy which delivers high doses of radiation to control and manage cancer while significantly reducing damage to healthy tissue and vital organs. Miami Cancer Institute is the only facility in the region and one of the few in the U.S. to offer this cutting-edge treatment option.
  • Chemotherapy, which may be combined with radiation if surgery is not a good option for you.
  • Targeted therapy, using innovative drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells.
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT), which kills cancer cells using laser light to activate a chemical agent that is injected in the bloodstream and drawn to cancer cells.
  • Clinical trials are an option for some patients. Speak with your doctor to determine if a clinical trial is a good choice for you. ​