Dismiss Modal

Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer, with over 350 people in the US dying each day – equating to more than breast, colorectal and cervical cancer deaths combined. Roughly one in 16 people will receive a lung cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. This means you or someone you know will likely develop lung cancer.

Unfortunately, not all lung cancers can be prevented. However, there are lifestyle choices that can heavily influence your chances of developing lung cancer, namely smoking. Statistics show that smoking history is the top contributor to one’s chances of developing lung cancer.

If you are a former smoker or at risk for developing lung cancer, following the screening guidelines recommended by your primary care provider could drastically decrease your chances of developing late-stage lung cancer.

As with many cancers, the earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances often are of survival. Lung cancer comes with just a 22 percent 5-year survival rate because most lung cancer is not detected until it is in a late stage. Getting screened is vitally important if you are considered at-risk to find and treat lung cancer early.

There are often a lot of statistics thrown around when it comes to lung cancer, but here are three important things you need to remember. 

1. Lung Cancer Survival Rates Triple When Detected Early

By following screening guidelines to detect lung cancer as early as possible, you’re helping protect yourself from developing late-stage disease. Receiving a lung cancer diagnosis before the cancer has spread from the lungs nearly triples the 5-year survival rate. Unfortunately, fewer than five percent of people considered high risk are getting screened – and even fewer in Florida (three percent), according to the American Lung Association.

Low-dose CT screening is one of the strongest tools an individual has to fight back against developing late-stage lung cancer. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends low-dose CT screening for those who:

  • Are 50 to 80 years old, and
  • Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years, and
  • Have a 20 pack-year smoking history (a pack year is one pack per day for a year)

If you meet these criteria, speak with your primary care provider about lung cancer screening. This simple conversation could save your life.

2. Lung Cancer Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Disease

Every case of lung cancer is unique, and lung cancer is not a single disease, but rather a group of diseases. There’s no blanket treatment for lung cancer because each case requires uniquely different treatments that may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, immunotherapy and palliative care.

There are two main types of lung cancer, and there are even multiple sub-types of lung cancer within those types. The two main types of lung cancer are:

• Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) – Almost always associated with cigarette smoking, small cell lung cancer is named for the types of cells found in the cancer and how they appear. There are two types of small cell lung cancer: Small cell carcinoma and combined small cell carcinoma.

• Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) – Non-small cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer, making up about 80 percent of lung cancer cases. Risk factors include smoking, genetics and exposure to secondhand smoke, asbestos, radon, pollution and other substances. This type of cancer typically grows and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer. There are three types of non-small cell lung cancer: Adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma.


While there are multiple types and sub-types of lung cancer, one thing that’s for certain is most lung cancer is very closely tied to a history of smoking. While anyone can develop lung cancer, 85 percent of lung cancer cases are related to a history of smoking, according to the National Institutes of Health. This reiterates the importance of following screening guidelines.

This very complex set of diseases is also why it’s important to have a multi-disciplinary care plan from the time lung cancer is diagnosed. The Thoracic Oncology Clinic at the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center brings together multiple physicians and specialties to review each case of lung cancer that is referred to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. These providers work together and develop an individualized care plan to give you the best possible odds of beating this disease.

3. New Technology at TMH Helps Find Lung Cancer Earlier Than Ever

Lung cancer nodules can be extremely hard to reach. Traditional bronchoscopy procedures – a technique to look at your airways with a tiny camera –  require a pulmonologist to manually maneuver a scope through a patient’s lungs to find, mark and biopsy potential lung cancer. This procedure can take quite some time and is not always successful in the first try – meaning a patient may have to come back for multiple bronchoscopy procedures before receiving a diagnosis.

However, the MONARCH™ Robotic Bronchoscopy Platform at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare helps our pulmonologists find cancerous nodules in hard-to-reach areas of the lungs, using a robotic scope that’s navigated by a controller similar to that of a video game system. This helps TMH physicians to biopsy, diagnose and mark lung cancer with greater speed, precision and ease.

The MONARCH™ platform is 15 percent more likely to provide physicians the information needed to establish a diagnosis, according to MONARCH™ manufacturer Ethicon, Inc.

Nobody wants to think about receiving a lung cancer diagnosis, but our physicians are ready to treat our region with the best lung cancer care possible. TMH Physician Partners – Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep specialize in screening, diagnosing and treating pulmonary diseases such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

If you meet the guidelines, talk to your primary care provider today about getting screened.

Learn more about how Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) is leading the way in the fight against lung cancer at TMH.ORG/LungCancer.

Integration Source URL

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare is a private, not-for-profit community healthcare system committed to transforming care, advancing health, and improving lives with an ultimate vision of leading the community to be the healthiest in the nation.