What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer usually starts in the lining of the bronchi (BRONG-ky), or the main airways of the lungs. Occasionally, it can begin in other areas of the respiratory system including the trachea ([TRAY-kee-uh] windpipe), bronchioles ([BRONG-kee-ol] airways that branch off from the bronchi) or alveoli ([al-VEE-oh-ly] tiny air sacs in the lungs). At Phelps Hospital, we treat many different kinds of lung cancer, including non-small cell lung cancer, adenocarcinoma (A-deh-noh-KAR-sih-NOH-muh), squamous cell carcinoma (SKWAY-mus sel KAR-sih-NOH-muh), large cell carcinoma, large cell neuroendocrine (NOOR-oh-EN-doh-krin) tumors, and mesothelioma (MEH-zoh-THEE-lee-OH-muh).

Most lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Other harmful substances such as radon, radiation, certain chemicals, or asbestos can also cause some lung cancers. In the case of mesothelioma, or cancer of the chest lining, most cases are caused by asbestos exposure.

The most common symptom of lung cancer is a persistent cough, but shortness of breath or recurring lung infections can also indicate that something is wrong. Consult one of our doctors if you are experiencing any of these symptoms and have a history of smoking.

The American Lung Association estimates that 2,000-3,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.

Explore thoracic surgery options

For our patients with lung and esophageal cancer, we offer innovative and comprehensive thoracic surgery services. These include:

Minimally invasive robotic thoracic surgery can be done either by video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) or the da Vinci Xi® Surgical System. This system uses state-of-the-art technology to allow your surgeon to control surgical instruments with much more precision and a higher range of motion than can normally be achieved by humans. It also allows for magnification of the surgical area beyond the limits of human vision. Minimally invasive robotic surgery can result in less blood loss, less post-operative pain, a quicker recovery time, and other benefits.

Treatment of benign lung tumors, which are not cancerous and therefore will not spread. If the abnormal growth is less than 3 centimeters, it is referred to as a nodule.

Treatment of lung cancer, the three main types of which are non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer, and lung carcinoid (KAR-sih-noyd) tumor.

Treatment of esophageal (ee-SAH-fuh-JEE-ul) cancer, which forms inside the esophagus or the tube that connects the mouth and stomach.

Treatment of mediastinal (MEE-dee-uh-STY-nul) tumors; these are growths that form in the area between the lungs, that may be cancerous or noncancerous.

Our surgical team is experienced in a variety of thoracic surgery procedures. The most common for treatment of lung or esophageal cancer are:

  • Wedge or segmental resection – removal of a small, affected piece of the lung or esophagus, as well as a little of the surrounding healthy tissue
  • Lobectomy – removal of one of the lobes of the lung
  • Pneumonectomy – removal of an entire lung
  • Esophagectomy – removal of all or part of the esophagus, followed by reconstruction using part of the stomach or large intestine

We will make every effort to provide convenient and local treatment options, so you can focus on getting well. Our doctors take a collaborative approach and will always consult with the most qualified specialists both inside and outside of the Phelps system, including thoracic surgeons, intervention pulmonologists, pathologists, and palliative care specialists.

Call the Cancer Institute for more information.

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As a testament to our quality of care, we have been designated as a Community Cancer Program by the Commission on Cancer.

Focused on the future of cancer care
Northwell Health has one of the largest cancer programs in the New York metro area.
Surgeons in the robotic surgery room

Your cancer care team may suggest robotic surgery as an option for you. Because it’s a less invasive approach, your recovery time may be faster, you may experience less pain, and you may get to go home from the hospital sooner.

Learn more

Your oncologist will explain all of your treatment options and create a plan for your specific needs and goals. You’ll work closely with a dedicated team of specialists in medical oncology, surgical oncology, and radiation oncology who will collaborate to ensure seamless coordination of your care. The doctors providing your treatment will meet regularly as a team to share ideas and review your care plan, because every cancer diagnosis is unique.

doctor talking with patient who is getting some imaging
female doctor discussing with female patient
We’re here to support you on every step of your journey

We know that every patient’s cancer diagnosis and journey is unique. We offer a variety of coordinated support services right here at Phelps Hospital. Our support program includes oncology nurse navigators, oncology nutritionists, social workers, and others who are dedicated to coordinating your care and ensuring your needs are met. Our unique hospitality team will make sure you have a comfortable stay while you’re with us.

Explore the support program