Cancer - Lung

Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old, they die and new cells take their place. Sometimes this orderly process goes awry--that is, new cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue, or tumor. Cancerous tumors are abnormal and divide without control or order.

The lung is the most common site for primary cancer worldwide, and smoking tobacco is the leading risk factor. The lung is also a common site of metastases for various malignancies. Metastases occur when a single tumor cell or clump of cells gain access to the blood stream or lymphatic system, travel to a new organ such as the lung, begin to multiply, and then re-grow their vascular structure to obtain food.

Interventional radiologists can deliver treatments for lung cancer directly to the cancer without significant side effects or damage to nearby normal tissue. There are two main methods by which interventional radiologists can treat cancer. The first is to use the vascular system to deliver chemotherapy medicine directly to the cancer's vascular supply. This limits damage and toxicity to the rest of the body while delivering the highest dose of the chemotherapy to the cancer. The second method interventional radiologists use to treat cancer is to "cook" or "freeze" the cancer by sticking a small, energy-delivering needle directly into the cancer that heats or freezes the cancer without significant damage to nearby normal tissue. Since these techniques are delivered at the cancer specifically, patients have fewer overall side effects making this especially useful in patients with other significant medical problems. According to the National Cancer Institute, "targeted cancer therapies will give doctors a better way to tailor cancer treatment."


  • Approximately 173,770 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in 2004, accounting for 13 percent of all new cancer cases.
  • An estimated 160,440 Americans will die in 2004 from lung cancer, accounting for 28 percent of all cancer deaths.
  • 85-95 percent of lung cancers are smoking related
  • More Americans die each year from lung cancer than from breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined.
  • Lung cancer kills more men than prostate cancer and more women than breast cancer
  • Between 1960 and 1990, deaths from lung cancer among women increased by more than 400 percent.
  • African American men are at least 40 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than white males.


  • Coughing that doesn't go away
  • Persistent chest pain
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Hoarseness
  • Swelling of the face and neck
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Fatigue

Lung Cancer Diagnosis

There are a number of tests that can help in the diagnosis of cancer, including blood tests, physical examination and a variety of imaging techniques including X-rays (e.g., chest X-rays and mammograms); computed tomography (CT); magnetic resonance (MR) and ultrasound. Usually, however, the final diagnosis cannot be made until a biopsy is performed. In a biopsy, a sample of tissue from the tumor or other abnormality is obtained and examined by a pathologist. By examining the biopsy sample, pathologists and other experts also can determine what kind of cancer is present and whether it is likely to be fast or slow growing. This information is important in deciding the best type of treatment. Open surgery is sometimes performed to obtain a tissue sample for biopsy. But in most cases, tissue samples can be obtained without open surgery with interventional radiology techniques.

Treatments include Radiofrequency Ablation of the Lung and Transarterial Chemoembolization.

Various artery and vein conditions that can be treated by a specialist Dr. David Shelley in Pocatello Idaho.

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