Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer

With leading-edge treatment and one-on-one support, Green Bay Oncology has helped more than 3,000 people fight lung cancer — thousands more than any other provider in the region.

Each year, about 226,000 people across the U.S. are given a diagnosis of lung cancer, more than any other cancer. At the same time, there are more than 400,000 lung cancer survivors. Here at Green Bay Oncology, we’re dedicated to doing everything we can to help that latter number grow.

In addition to having more cancer-fighting doctors and more depth of experience than any other provider in the region, Green Bay Oncology is one of only two participants in the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program in the region. We conduct national-level clinical trials for lung cancer right here in our communities.

Lung cancer diagnosis

Currently, there is no commonly accepted screening test for lung cancer. People who think they may be at risk for developing lung cancer should talk with their primary doctor about the pros and cons of being screened, ways to reduce personal risk factors and an appropriate checkup schedule.

Lung cancer forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the air passages. There are two main types of lung cancer, small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Specific treatment for each may vary, depending on the patient and other factors.

  • Small cell lung cancer. An aggressive (fast-growing) cancer that forms in tissues of the lung and can spread to other parts of the body. The cancer cells look small and oval-shaped when looked at under a microscope.
  • Non-small cell lung cancer. A group of lung cancers that are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the cells look under a microscope. The three main types of non-small cell lung cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common kind of lung cancer.

Symptoms of either type of lung cancer may include a cough that gets worse, does not go away and may even produce blood. Some sufferers experience breathing trouble and shortness of breath. Constant chest pain, hoarse voice and frequent lung infections are also common symptoms.

Through the diagnosis process and beyond, you need reliable information. We are here to answer any questions you may have, but we understand you may want to consult additional resources. We encourage all of our patients and prospective patients to empower themselves with knowledge, and the Internet can provide valuable reference material. The key is to know that the information is coming from reputable sources.

For more information on screening and diagnosis of lung cancer, we recommend the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Lung Cancer Online.

Why does lung cancer occur?

Doctors cannot explain why one person develops lung cancer and another does not. However studies have identified a number of risk factors for lung cancer:

Tobacco Smoke – People who have smoked or who have been exposed to secondhand smoke are at the highest risk for developing lung cancer. Toxic chemicals from the smoke of cigarettes, pipes, water pipes, cigars or recreational drugs can cause lung cancer over time.

Radon – Radon is a gas that you cannot see, smell or taste. It forms in soil and rocks and can present a risk to those in the mining industry. Radon gas can also seep into homes. Radon damages lung cells and increases the risk of lung cancer. For people who smoke, this risk increases greatly when exposed to radon as well.

Asbestos and other substances – Certain occupations are associated with the risk of lung cancer. People who work in the construction or chemical industries can be exposed to asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel, soot, tar and other substances that cause lung cancer. Again, smokers are at an even greater risk.

Family history of lung cancer – There is growing research indicating there may be a gene that passes on the risk of lung cancer. People who have a family history of lung cancer (parents and siblings) should be aware of their additional risk. People who are lung cancer survivors need to be vigilant about potential recurrences.

How is lung cancer treated?

Lung cancer is treated either locally through surgery or radiation, or systemically through chemotherapy or targeted therapies. Lung cancer treatment may include:


Surgery for lung cancer removes the tissue that contains the tumor, either part of the lung or the entire lung. Nearby lymph nodes are also removed.

Radiation Therapy:

Radiation to kill cancerous cells often follows surgery. It uses isolated radiation beams to attack cancer cells, and can improve chances of survival and reduce the chance that the cancer will spread.


Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to attack cancer cells. The drugs are administered orally or through regular intravenous injections. Each drug comes with its own risks and side effects, and new drugs are being brought to market every year.

Clinical Trials:

New treatment options are continually being developed. As the region’s only participant in the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program, we conduct national-level clinical trials right here in our communities and help to identify new ways to detect, diagnose, and treat lung cancer.

For more information on the specific treatments we’ve developed for lung cancer, we invite you to contact us and schedule an appointment.

Types of treatment by stage of lung cancer

Staging indicates the advancement and severity of a patient’s cancer. Our experts will use this information to determine the appropriate course of treatment.

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is diagnosed in 10-13% of all lung cancer patients. This cancer spreads quickly and is found primarily in people who have a history of smoking. There are two stages of SCLC.

  • Limited stage – The cancer is confined to one lung.
    Chemotherapy and radiation are used in combination at this stage.
  • Extensive stage – The cancer is found in tissues outside the lung and/or cancerous cells are found in distant organs. Chemotherapy is the treatment at this stage of the disease.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for the majority of lung cancer cases. It is a slower growing disease than SCLC.

stage 0
Stage 0 – Cancer involves cells that are noticeable in the mucus of the patient but have not invaded deep into the lungs. Treatments like laser therapy or brachytherapy can offer a cure to stage 0 lung cancer patients.
stage 1
Stage 1 – Involves a cancerous tumor, but cells have not spread beyond the lung.
Removing the affected area of the lung (segmentectomy) is recommended. Chemotherapy is sometimes an additional treatment.
stage 2
Stage 2 – The mass is larger and has spread to the lymph nodes, but the cancer is fairly confined and has not spread to distant organs. A portion or the entire lung is removed through surgery, followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation.
stage 3
Stage 3 – Cancer is found in lymph nodes but not in distant organs. There might be more than one tumor on the lung. Surgery may be a possible option, but chemotherapy and/or radiation are more viable treatments.
stage 4
Stage 4 – Cancer cells are widespread and are more difficult to treat. Chemotherapy, targeted therapy or radiation are likely treatments.



For more information on lung cancer and related treatment options, we recommend the following resources: