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Lung Cancer

From screening and diagnosis to treatment, Memorial Hermann Hospital’s comprehensive Lung Cancer Program provides personalized, multi-disciplinary and cutting-edge care for lung cancer patients. A highly specialized team of physicians, who are affiliated with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School, are also involved in clinical research that translates directly into advanced patient care. The team also includes a social worker and nurse navigator to ensure that you never feel lost in a medical maze.

Schedule Your Lung Cancer Screening Online

Our easy to use appointment scheduling tool allows you to set up your lung cancer screening appointment online.

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Patient Education Presentation

Lung Cancer Screening, Diagnosis and the Latest Treatment Options

Memorial Hermann-TMC affiliated cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Philip Rascoe discusses lung cancer screening, diagnosis and the latest treatment options available for the treatment of lung cancer.

Did You Know

  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It is the most common cancer in men and women combined after skin cancer.
  • Lung cancer kills 160,000 Americans every year - more than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.
  • More than 220,000 people get diagnosed with lung cancer every year.

Risk Factors

  • Tobacco use, including smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes, now or in the past.
  • 90% of lung cancer patients are current or former smokers.
  • Second-hand smoke exposure. Second-hand smoke exposure increases chances of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.
  • Exposure to asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel or other substances in the workplace.
  • Exposure to radon, which can be found in the home as well as in the workplace.
  • Family history of lung cancer.

Low-Dose CT (LDCT) Lung Cancer Screening and Monitoring

Low-Dose CT Lung Cancer ScreeningLow-Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) is an effective tool in screening for lung cancer and should be done before there are any symptoms. The goal of an LDCT lung screening is to save lives. Without this screening test, lung cancer is usually not found until a person develops symptoms. At that time, the cancer is much harder to treat. This quick, non-invasive procedure looks for abnormal lesions that could be a potential cancer. Screening with low-dose CT has been shown in the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) to reduce by 20 percent the risk of death from lung cancer among current or former smokers, aged 55 to 77 who have a smoking history of at least 30 pack years. (A pack year is equal to one pack or 20 cigarettes a day for one year.) The lung nodule clinic monitors abnormal lesions detected on the CT scan to discover cancer at the earliest possible stage. A specialist in the disease of lungs determines what additional tests are needed to diagnose potential lung cancer.

Who should get an LDCT lung screening exam?

LDCT lung screening is recommended for the following groups of people who are at high risk for lung cancer. Those who have symptoms of a lung condition at the time of screening, such as a new cough or shortness of breath, are not eligible.

Group 1: People ages 55 to 74 who have smoked at least an average of one pack a day for 30 years. This includes people who still smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

Group 2: People ages 50 to 74 who currently or in the past have smoked at least an average of one pack a day for 20 years. They must also have at least one other risk factor for lung cancer, not including exposure to secondhand smoke.

Lung Cancer Screening Recommendations

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, American Lung Association, American Association for Thoracic Surgery, American Society of Clinical Oncologists, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society, the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), all now recommend that individuals at high risk for developing lung cancer consider annual screening with low dose CT scan of the chest.

Memorial Hermann offers Lung Cancer Screening to you if you meet the following criteria:

  • If your age is between 55-77 years of age.
  • And you smoked for 30 pack-years.
  • And you currently smoke or have quit smoking in the last 15 years.

At Memorial Hermann your lung cancer screening will include:

  • Shared informed decision making appointment with a pulmonologist to help you decide whether lung screening is the right choice.
  • Low-dose CT Scan for imaging and interpretation by board certified radiologist.
  • Prompt, reliable follow-up of screening detected nodules facilitated by an oncology nurse navigator.
  • Smoking cessation counseling.
  • Multidisciplinary input from our experienced team of specialist in pulmonary medicine, diagnostic radiology, thoracic surgery, medical oncology and radiation oncology.

Will my insurance cover the cost?

Currently, a few private insurance companies will cover the cost of lung cancer screening. For those individuals who do not have insurance coverage of this benefit, we have arranged with the hospital a reasonable cost for the CT scan, interpretation by a board-certified radiologist, written report that will include recommendations for follow-up studies, and a reminder from the oncology nurse navigator to the patient. If an abnormality is detected on the screening examination, further evaluation and work up of this should be covered by insurance.

Lung Cancer Diagnosis

If the CT scan detects an abnormal finding,the lung cancer program at Memorial Hermann is equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to diagnose lung cancer:

Using these advanced technologies, diagnosis and staging can be performed in a single procedure.  The procedure begins with a biopsy, analyzed immediately by an on-site pathologist to determine whether or not a mass is malignant. If it is, the pulmonary interventional oncologist “stages” the cancer – determines its exact size, location and the extent to which it may have spread beyond the lungs – without a follow-up procedure.

Multi-disciplinary Lung Cancer Clinic At Memorial Hermann-TMC

After a lung cancer diagnosis, the multi-specialty team affiliated with Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center collaborates to ensure that treatment is carefully planned and personalized for each patient. Challenging cases are addressed by tumor boards where physicians meet to discuss treatment options and create clear, consistent plans for patients.

Early stage lung cancer is treated with curative surgery performed by thoracic surgeons who specialize in doing these procedures. For those patients who are unable to undergo lung surgery Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SBRT) is also available.  Treatment options in later stages may include one or a combination of therapies:

  1. Surgery – lobectomy (removing part of the lung) or pneumonectomy (removing the entire lung)
  2. Radiation- Including Intensity-Modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)
  3. Chemotherapy and targeted drugs – including genetic profiling and next-generation sequencing (NSG) to identify specifically targeted therapies
flow dose

In addition, our affiliation with UTHealth provides qualifying patients with access to clinical trials that further expand treatment options.

The lung cancer team also provides early palliative care for advanced lung cancer patients – treatment that relieves discomfort, symptoms and stress. Studies have shown that this approach not only improves quality of life, it also prolongs it. Doctors also work with patients to establish advanced directives and identify goals for care.

During and after treatment, specialized lung cancer support groups give patients, survivors and their families’ assistance addressing emotional needs and healthy lifestyle choices. In addition to the providers below, patients are cared for by a team of skilled professionals in the areas of interventional and diagnostic imaging, nutritional counseling and weight-loss management, a social worker as well as an oncology nurse navigator who will help guide the patient through every step of their treatment and keep open lines of communication with the referring physician on the patient's treatment plan.