The Lung Cancer Program at Torrance Memorial’s Hunt Cancer Institute is focused on providing expert treatment for lung cancer, with a multidisciplinary team of experts dedicated to delivering the highest quality, personalized treatment to lung cancer patients.

  • Advanced technology for lung cancer diagnosis & treatment
  • Highly accurate & targeted radiation therapy
  • Dedicated multi-disciplinary team
  • Minimally-invasive surgical techniques
  • Compassionate and personalized care
U.S. News and World Report Lung Cancer Surgery

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer describes malignant cells that grow and multiply, usually quickly, eventually replacing the normal cells in the lung. Lung cancer that starts in the lung is called primary lung cancer; if the cancer started in another part of the body and metastasizes to the lung, it is called secondary lung cancer.

There are two main types of lung cancer:

  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): The most common type of lung cancer, NSCLC accounts for about 85% of lung cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma are all subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer.
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer: Also called oat-cell cancer, small cell lung cancer accounts for about 10-15% of lung cancers. This type of lung cancer tends to spread quickly.

Stages of Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) are assigned a stage from I to IV in order of severity.

  • Stage I: The cancer is confined to the lung.
  • Stages II and III: The cancer is confined to the lung and has possibly spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV: The cancer has spread outside of the lung to other parts of the body.

Small cell lung cancers (SCLC) are staged using a two-tiered system:

  • Limited stage (LS) SCLC refers to cancer that is confined to its area of origin in the lung and lymph nodes.
  • In extensive-stage (ES) SCLC, the cancer has spread beyond the lung to other parts of the body.

Lung Cancer Risk Factors

Lung cancer is caused by the out-of-control growth of cells that do not die as in the normal cell patterns. Not all lung cancers have known causes but many do. Environmental and genetic factors known to raise lung cancer risk include:

  • Smoking
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Radon exposure
  • Family history
  • Air pollution, exposure to asbestos, nickel, chromium, arsenic and tar

>> Learn More about our Quit Smoking Program

Lung Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Lung cancer symptoms vary from person to person – and early lung cancer sometimes does not cause symptoms, which is why lung cancer screening is important for people with known risk factors. Possible signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • A cough that worsens or does not go away
  • Breathing trouble, such as shortness of breath
  • Constant chest pain, worsened by deep breathing, coughing or laughing
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored spit
  • Persistent hoarseness
  • Frequent lung infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Swelling of the neck and face
  • Arm or shoulder pain
  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss

Having one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have lung cancer. Nonetheless, early detection and treatment offers the best odds for full recovery so it’s important to see a doctor right away if you experience any of the above symptoms.

Lung Cancer Screening

The best method to detect lung cancer is achieved through low-dose CT scanning. Torrance Memorial offers low-dose CT screenings for those at increased risk for lung cancer. Research from the National Cancer Institute indicates that people at high risk who undergo this type of screening annually have a 20% less chance of dying of lung cancer than those who get a standard chest x-ray.

>> Learn More about CT Lung Screening

Lung Cancer Diagnosis

If symptoms or a screening test reveal possible lung cancer, a biopsy will be required to determine whether or not cancer is present.

The biopsy may be done in several ways:

  • Needle Biopsy: The doctor passes a needle through the skin, into the lungs, to remove a small piece of tissue.
  • Bronchoscopy: To perform a bronchoscopy, the doctor inserts a small tube through the mouth or nose and into the lungs. The tube, which has a light on the end, allows the doctor to see inside the lungs and to remove a small tissue sample.
  • Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB): A minimally invasive procedure, ENB allows to all part of the lungs without the need for complex surgery.
  • Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS): Combining ultrasound with a bronchoscope for visualization and precise localization.
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS): a type of imaging technology that adds ultrasound to endoscopy for close examination of the lungs and nearby structures.

Lung Cancer Treatment

Our multidisciplinary lung cancer team provides compassionate, leading edge, personalized care. Cancer treatment is tailored to each person, including overall health, age, and individual beliefs and preferences. The goal of cancer treatment is to eradicate the tumor or slow its growth. Your cancer treatment plan may include one or more of the following:

For Referring Providers

Download a Low Dose CT Lung Screening order form.

  1. To schedule call 310-517-4738
  2. Fax completed order form to Thoracic Nurse Navigator at 310-784-8722

Speak with a Nurse Navigator

Your Lung Cancer Specialist