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Lung Cancer

Dr. Mullet and lung cancer patient, Vickie Duff
After being treated for late-stage lung cancer by Markey cardiothoracic surgeon Timothy Mullett, MD, FACS, Vickie Duff has now been cancer free for seven years. Read more in Markey's 2016 Annual Report.

In the UK Markey Cancer Center’s Multidisciplinary Thoracic Clinic, lung cancer patients are provided customized care to fit their oncology needs. Our program offers the latest in thoracic surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy treatments, and more.

Our Team Approach

The Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program includes multiple oncology specialists with a broad range of expertise in all aspects of lung cancer care and treatment. Our team provides expertise and offers patients personalized care and treatment plans suited for their needs.

Conditions commonly treated include small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer, mesothelioma, thymic tumors, and other thoracic cancers including esophageal cancer and tumors of the mediastinum. Thoracic surgery, interventional pulmonary medicine, radiation, chemotherapy and precision medicine treatments are state-of-the-art, supplemented by national research studies as well as treatments with promising new drug regimens.

Lung Cancer Survival Rates

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 14 percent of all new cancers diagnosed are lung cancers. In 2016, Markey had a 17 percent five-year survival rate among lung cancer patients.

Despite the serious prognosis of lung cancer, more people are living with lung cancer now than ever. According to ACS, more than 430,000 people alive today have been diagnosed with lung cancer at some point.

The earlier lung cancer is discovered, the sooner your treatment can begin. See our Lung Cancer Screening page for more information on our Lung Cancer Screening Program.

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials help keep our cancer care on the leading edge by allowing researchers to apply cancer knowledge as it develops to give you the best chance of survival.

At Markey, our specialists place a high value on all areas of lung cancer treatment, from patient care designed for the unique patient to developing treatments of the future.

Visit Markey’s Clinical Trials webpage for more information on how to participate, as well as the NCI Clinical Trials webpages for additional resources.

  • Locations


    Multidisciplinary Clinic

    Whitney Hendrickson Building

    UK Markey Cancer Center

    Whitney-Hendrickson Building
    First Floor
    800 Rose St.
    Lexington KY 40536

    A parking lot is located near the Whitney-Hendrickson Building, accessible via Hospital Drive.

  • Your Visit

    • For your first visit, you will be directed to the multidisciplinary clinic on the first floor of the Whitney-Hendrickson Building. Directions to the Whitney-Hendrickson Building.
    • After registering at the front desk, a receptionist will help guide you through your appointment.
    • Free parking is available to patients in the Whitney-Hendrickson parking lot.
    • Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
    • Review the patient handbook to learn about your stay and everything Markey offers for patients and families.

    UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.

  • About Small Cell Lung Cancer

  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

  • Cancer Prevention

    You can lower your risk of cancer by committing to practices that build a healthy lifestyle. These recommendations can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health.

    Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.

    Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.

    Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of your alcohol consumption. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal, and oropharyngeal cancer.

    It is always beneficial to be proactive in understanding your health. Learn more about our Cancer Screening Program and events.

    Radon Testing

    Exposure to high levels of radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United State, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). It is recommended that you have a radon gas home test available to check your home’s radon levels.

    Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas formed through decay of uranium, thorium, and radium in rocks and soils. It is present in nearly all air, and everyone breathes it in every day, typically at very low levels. But if excessive radon gases enter your home through cracks in floors, walls, or foundations, they can raise to levels that become detrimental to your health.

    Learn more about radon’s effect on lung cancer with this NCI Fact Sheet.

  • Lung Cancer Diagnosis

    If your healthcare provider believes you may have lung cancer, you will need certain exams and tests to be sure.

    You should expect to be asked questions about your health history, your symptoms, risk factors, and family history of disease. Understanding your background will help your provider make a diagnosis.

    You may have one of the following tests:

    • Imaging Test. An X-ray image or CT scan of your lungs may reveal any abnormalities that your healthcare providers are searching for.
    • Biopsy Tissue Sample. A biopsy removes tissue or cells to be checked by a pathologist under a microscope. Results from a biopsy help determine if abnormal cells are cancer. Your doctor may perform this procedure in a variety of ways including bronchoscopy, mediastinoscopy, and needle biopsy. Ask your provider about your specific type of biopsy to learn more.

    Getting your test results

    Patients will be called within five days after biopsy by a nurse navigator. Further management will be recommended at that time.

    Who is Qualified for Lung Cancer Screening?

    Lung cancer screening is recommended for patients who are at high risk for lung cancer. Low-dose CT screenings are recommended for patients who:

    • Are between the ages 55-80.
    • Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
    • Have a 30 pack-year smoking history, meaning the patient smokes one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years, or two packs per day for 15 years.
  • Lung Cancer Surgery

    Patient prepares for surgery

    One common treatment for lung cancer is surgery, where a procedure is performed in order to remove the lung cancer and a margin of healthy tissue. Patients have several surgical options, and the type of surgery can depend on a few factors, such as:

    • Your overall health.
    • The type and stage of your cancer.
    • The size of the tumor.

    The most common types of lung cancer surgery include:

    1. Wedge resection. This type of surgery removes the portion of your lung that holds the tumor.
    2. Segmental resection. This type of surgery removes a segment of the lung’s lobe that contains cancer.
    3. Lobectomy. This type of surgery removes the entire lobe of the lung with cancer.

    Minimally Invasive (VATS) Surgery

    Markey’s Lung Cancer team also offers minimally invasive (VATS) surgery, a surgical resection that aims to treat patients without opening the chest. This minimally invasive technique reduces risk of trauma post-surgery. Ask your doctors for more details on VATS surgery.

  • Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy is one of the longest used and most common treatments for cancer. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow and reproduce. For some types of cancer, chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as radiation or surgery. A combination of chemotherapy medicines is typically used to fight a specific cancer.

    While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating certain cancers, the medicines reach all parts of the body, not just the cancer cells. There can be many side effects during treatment, and being prepared for these side effects can help you and your caregivers manage them effectively.

    How is chemotherapy given?

    Chemotherapy can be given in various ways, such as:

    • A pill to swallow.
    • An injection (shot) into the muscle or fat tissue.
    • Directly into the bloodstream, or intravenously (also called IV).
    • Topically (applied to the skin).
    • Directly into a body cavity.

    Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles in order to allow healthy cells the time to recover. Treatment may be given daily, weekly, every few weeks, or monthly, depending on your situation.

    Chemotherapy is usually given in an outpatient setting. This includes a hospital, clinic, or healthcare provider's office.

    Patients are encouraged to take along something that is comforting to occupy their time during treatment. Since it is hard to predict how a patient will feel after treatment, it is important that the patient has arrangements to have someone drive them to and from their appointment.

  • Radiation Therapy

    Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer that uses high-energy X-rays. A machine directs the rays of energy to the area of cancer, with a goal to kill or shrink cancer cells.

    When might radiation therapy be used for lung cancer?

    Radiation is most often used along with other lung cancer treatments, like surgery or chemotherapy. Your doctor may advise radiation to:

    • Serve as the main treatment, sometimes along with chemotherapy.
    • Shrink a lung tumor to make it easier to operate on before surgery.
    • Kill any remaining small areas of cancer following a surgery.
    • Treat a single area of cancer spread, such as a tumor in the brain or an adrenal gland. This may be done along with surgery to treat the mean lung tumor.
    • Relieve symptoms such as pain, bleeding, trouble swallowing, cough, or problems caused by a spread of cancer.

    Types of radiation therapy

    • External beam radiation therapy. This treatment is the most common type of radiation therapy used to treat lung cancer. This treatment focuses radiation from outside the body on the cancer in order to eliminate cancer cells.
    • Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy). This treatment type is used to shrink the size of tumors in the airways in order to relieve painful symptoms. Your doctor will place a small source of radioactive material into the cancer or the airway where that cancer lives, and it is usually removed after a short time. This treatment is often performed using a bronchoscope, but may also be done during surgery.
  • Questions to Ask Your Doctor

    Questions for your doctor

    Your healthcare team will talk with you the surgery options that are best for you. You may want to bring a family member or close friend with you to appointments. Consider asking each of the following questions:

    • Where is the cancer located?
    • Has the cancer spread beyond where it started?
    • What’s the cancer’s stage, and what does that mean?
    • What type of treatment do you recommend and why?
    • What type of side-effects come along with this treatment?
    • Should I consider taking part in a clinical trial?
    • If I need surgery, where will the incision be?
    • If I need surgery, how much tissue will be removed?
    • Will I need treatment after surgery, like radiation or chemotherapy?
    • What type of follow-up care will I need?
    • When can I go back to my normal activities?
  • Survivorship

    When their initial treatment is completed, patients in the Multidisciplinary Clinic are referred to Markey's Survivorship program. The survivorship program is designed to connect a patient's medical history with their future quality of life as a cancer survivor.

    During a meeting with your nurse practitioner, patients will review their survivorship care plan. This includes a treatment summary, list of integrative medicine services at Markey, and an overview of immunizations and cancer screenings recommendations based on the patient’s age. Ask your nurse practitioner for more information on dieting, exercising and other daily activities following your initial treatment.

    Dietitians and patient navigators are available on an as-needed basis to help patients identify important aspects of their continuing health care, including long-term or late effects of treatment, diet, and smoking cessation. Social workers and financial counselors are available for counseling as well. 

    Patients also receive a personalized care plan, in accordance with national best practices for ongoing survivorship care and are referred to a primary care provider if they don't already have one.

    The Cancer Survivorship Clinics are located in the Whitney Hendrickson Building and the Ben Roach Building at the Markey Cancer Center.

    If you have questions about Markey’s survivorship clinics, please call 800-333-8874.

    Additional resources

    There are community resources and support groups that your nurse practitioner can recommend as well, such as UK Integrative Medicine and Health services and Central Kentucky's YMCA Live Strong program.

    Expressions of Courage

    Expressions of Courage is an event designed to showcase the experiences and creativity of Markey patients who have battled cancer, timed to coincide with other nationwide celebrations in June for Cancer Survivorship Month. Along with celebrating, the event provides opportunities to connect with members of the Healthy Living Panel to further enhance their recovery process.

    Learn more about Expressions of Courage events.

  • Support Services

    The UK Markey Cancer Center is known for providing state-of-the-art care for cancer patients, incorporating the latest advances in surgery, chemotherapy and radiation medicine.

    However, cancer patients have needs that even these treatments cannot reach. They may have pain from their disease or secondary to treatment. They often experience anxiety or depression. They may undergo a spiritual crisis. Some are overwhelmed by decisions they have to make concerning their care. Many worry about family members who rely upon them. Palliative care is a special branch of medicine dedicated to meeting these patient needs.

    Palliative care and integrative medicine at Markey Cancer Center currently includes:

    • Jin Shin Jyutsu.
    • Nutrition information and planning.
    • Psych-Oncology services.
    • A variety of support groups and local resources.
    • Palliative care resources at UK HealthCare.
    • Art therapy.

    To learn more about the support services available at the UK Markey Cancer Center, you can visit Markey's Support Services section. For specific support information, consider the following pages.