If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with lung cancer, you may face a lot of difficult questions. The diagnosis may feel overwhelming, but Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center specialists work together closely to support our patients throughout their treatment. We also offer a range of support services to help with any emotional and other physical needs during your care.
MSK is an NCI-designated cancer center, which means it meets the strict standards of the National Cancer Institute. For all cancer stages, people treated for lung cancer at NCI-designated centers like MSK have better survival rates compared with national benchmarks.
If you require surgery, you will be cared for by one of the country’s most experienced lung cancer teams. Our surgeons perform more than 1,200 lung cancer operations each year.
Our medical oncologists know which specific drugs will be most effective if you need chemotherapy or immunotherapy. They have helped develop new therapies that are successful and also minimize side effects, so you can achieve the best possible quality of life.
If you need radiation therapy, our radiation oncologists use the most advanced technologies to safely deliver powerful doses of radiation directly to your tumor with great precision.
Our clinical trials offer new diagnostic approaches, surgical procedures, treatments and follow-up strategies that are available only at MSK.
Having the facts about lung cancer will help you understand the disease and empower you to make decisions about treatment.
What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in both men and women. It develops when abnormal cells grow in either the lungs or the bronchi (the air tubes that lead to the lungs).
Who is most at risk for lung cancer?
People who smoke usually are at greater risk for getting lung cancer. Research studies show that female smokers may be more likely to get the disease than male smokers. People who never smoked also can get lung cancer.
There is a growing trend among lung cancer cases. The disease is developing in people who never smoked, were only very light smokers, or who had no other risk factors. Almost 1 out of every 4 people treated for lung cancer at MSK are in this category, most of them female. Our doctors are experts in treating these lung cancer cases.
What are the main types of lung cancer?
There are 2 main types of lung cancer. They are called non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. The difference is in the kind of cells the cancer started.
Non-small cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer. The treatment for non-small cell lung cancer is usually surgery. Small cell lung cancer often grows and spreads quickly. The standard treatment is chemotherapy.
A third, less common, type of lung cancer is called lung carcinoid tumors. These are sometimes called pulmonary carcinoid tumors or pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors.