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Lung Cancer Center

Lung Cancer Treatment Guide

Download our free Lung Cancer Treatment Guide to learn more about lung cancer and the possible medical and surgical treatment options including:

  • What you need to know about lung cancer
  • How lung cancer is diagnosed and managed
  • Stages of lung cancer
  • Types of lung cancer
  • Treatment options
  • Clinical trials
  • Patient services

Cleveland Clinic lung cancer specialists are nationally recognized for diagnosing and treating lung and chest cancers through our Chest Cancer Center and Lung Nodule Clinic. Our team provides the newest medical and surgical treatment options available for lung cancer today with survival rates of patients consistently five to 20 percent higher than the national average.

Chest Cancer Center

The Chest Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic, which includes specialists from the Respiratory Institute, Taussig Cancer Institute, Imaging Pathology and Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute, uses a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care. This allows us to focus our entire team’s expertise and energy on providing the best outcomes for our patients. Patients with lung cancer, mesothelioma and rare tumors of the chest wall and mediastinum (mid-chest cavity), can benefit from this comprehensive, coordinated care.

Our team includes medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologist, pathologists, pulmonologists and thoracic surgeons who work together to provide the most advanced medical and surgical treatment options available for lung cancer today. We’ve designed our services so that patients can see all of the specialists they need in an efficient and timely manner.

While there is no one solution for treating lung cancer, there are many options. We help patients find the most effective treatments, allowing them to enjoy the best quality of life possible. Sometimes this means participating in a clinical trial which gives patients with all stages of lung cancer the opportunity to participate in novel treatment protocols involving surgery, radiation and/or promising chemotherapeutic agents or biologic response modifiers, not widely available elsewhere. With innovative treatments and excellent outcomes, Cleveland Clinic lung cancer specialists are nationally recognized.

Lung Nodule Clinic

Any patient with a lung nodule discovered by their physician on CT imaging or chest x-ray can be referred to our Lung Nodule Clinic. Patients will meet with physician assistants, pulmonologists, and sometimes, thoracic surgeons, who have extensive knowledge of lung nodule management. Our services include initial consultations, reviews of CT images, risk calculation and volumetric analysis of pulmonary nodules, surgical and non-surgical biopsies and advanced bronchoscopy with guided technology.

Lung Cancer Screening

Cleveland Clinic is now screening for lung nodules. The screening can help the physician and patient look for signs of lung cancer before the disease has caused someone to have symptoms. The goal of screening is to detect the disease early in its course, when it is easier to treat. To learn more about lung cancer screening click here.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment with one of our lung cancer specialists, please call 216.444.6503 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 46503.

Lung cancer is an abnormal mass or tumor within the lungs. Cigarette smoking is the most common risk factor for developing lung cancer, though 25 percent of all cases of lung cancer worldwide are diagnosed in people who have never smoked.

Lung cancer is the most common malignancy worldwide, with more than one million cases diagnosed yearly. In the United States, an estimated 200,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2009 and more than 150,000 deaths were due to lung cancer – making it the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women.

Types of Lung and Chest Cancers

Lung Cancers

About 90 percent of lung cancers start in the lining of the bronchi (air passageways branching off the trachea, or breathing tube). Lung cancer also can form in glands below the lining of the bronchi, frequently in the outer edges of the lungs. These lung cancers are one of two major types, small cell or non-small cell lung cancer, each of which grows and spreads in different ways.

For More Information

Benign Lung Tumors
Lung Nodules
Rare Cancers of the Lungs and Chest

There are more than a dozen kinds of uncommon tumors that can develop in the chest, which may or may not arise from the lung. Some of the less common types include carcinoid tumors (often located in a large airway), and malignant mesothelioma that develops from the pleura, or lining of the lung.

For More Information

Treatments for Lung Cancer

Cleveland Clinic Chest Cancer Center's Lung Cancer Program offers several treatment options for cancers and tumors of the lungs and chest, including:

Chemotherapy and Targeted Therapies

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs that are designed to kill rapidly growing cells such as cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be injected directly into a vein (by IV, or intravenously) or given through a catheter, which is a thin tube placed into a large vein and kept there until it is no longer needed. Some chemotherapy drugs are taken by pill.

Targeted agents are a newer class of drugs that are designed to act against specific weaknesses in cancer cells or surrounding supportive tissues such as blood vessels. These drugs can also be taken by pill or by IV.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a form of high energy X-ray that kills cancer cells. It can be used as a primary treatment, or in combination with chemotherapy (with or without surgery). It often can play an important role in the care of patients with advanced cancer by providing relief from pain, blockage of the airways, shortness of breath or coughing.

Radiation therapy is a “focused” treatment, meaning it is designed to maximize its effect on the cancer cells while minimizing any injury to normal cells. Radiation to treat lung cancer most often comes from a machine (external radiation). Occasionally, the radiation may be delivered internally using tubes that place a radioactive seed directly into or near the tumor (internal radiation or brachytherapy).


Dr. Sudish Murthy discusses lung cancer surgery.

Surgery is still considered the “gold standard” for treating early stage lung cancer. Removing the tumor and surrounding lung tissue gives the best chance for cure for patients whose disease is localized. Surgery should be performed by specialized thoracic surgeons with particular expertise in treatment of lung cancer and other chest malignancies. All of our thoracic surgeons at Cleveland Clinic focus specifically on chest malignancies.

The following Cleveland Clinic physicians specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer and lung nodules, including non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer, mediastinal tumors, mesothelioma, and rare cancers of the lung and chest.

Radiation Oncology

Respiratory Institute

Solid Tumor Oncology

Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery

Translational Hematology and Oncology Research

Regional Community Oncology

Make an Appointment 

To make an appointment with one of our lung cancer specialists, please call 216.444.6503 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext.46503.

At Cleveland Clinic, we are constantly striving to find new ways of helping patients with lung cancer through research and clinical trials. Our team had several breakthroughs last year, including:

  • Identifying and validating exhaled breath biomarkers for the development of a breath test that may help to identify and diagnose someone with early stage lung cancer. This tool also would help determine the prognosis from the cancer, predict or monitor the response to therapy, and advance our overall understanding of the pathobiology of the cancer.
  • Conducting lung cancer screening trials using a computer-aided detection chest X-ray system
  • Developing a blood biorepository to study tests that are capable of assisting with the screening, diagnosis and management of patients with lung nodules and lung cancer
  • New computer software is being studied that can help detect cancer when it is much smaller—it can be likened to using a metal detector in helping find a needle in a haystack.
  • Identifying an association between the use of certain diabetes medications and a lower risk of developing lung cancer
  • A new drug being studied called crizotinib (Pfizer) that is promising in about 5 percent of lung cancer patients. This targeted drug was shown to control the cancer in 90 percent of these patients and causing the tumor to shrink in about 60 percent of them, rates much better than would be expected with typical chemotherapy treatment.

Lung Cancer Clinical Trials

Search Lung Cancer Clinical Trials

For an accurate listing of open lung cancer clinical trials, click on the following links:

For some patients, participating in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective, or to see if they are better than the standard treatment. Many of today’s standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.

Patients who take part in clinical trials also help improve the way cancer will be treated in the future. Even when clinical trials do not lead to effective new treatments, they often answer important questions and help move medical knowledge forward.

There are a number of trials available for patients with lung cancer at Cleveland Clinic. These trials provide patients access to novel or experimental testing and treatment that may not be offered at other institutions. For more information about lung cancer clinical trials at Cleveland Clinic, visit the clinical trials listing.

Patient Referrals

Our secure online service, Dr.Connect, provides referring physicians access to patient’s treatment progress with streamlined communication from Cleveland Clinic physicians to your office, allowing continued participation in the ongoing care of patients. With the best possible treatment plans and coordinated care, our team approach benefits both the patient and the referring physician.

Reason for referral Contact person to make referral
Lung nodule evaluation, bronchoscopy, diagnosis and staging, preoperative evaluation for lung resection Rachel Malec, CNP
Lung Cancer Program and Lung Nodule Clinic
Phone: 216.445.4632
Fax: 216.636.6329
Available Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Treatment evaluation involving chemotherapy or radiation
Cancer Answer Line at 866.223.8100
Surgical evaluation Paula Stepnick RN,BSN,HCMBA
Thoracic Nurse Practice Manager
Phone: 216.445.3415
Fax: 216.444.0777
Available Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowships

Our pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowships provide board-certified general internists with the tools necessary to care for patients, who have complicated lung diseases and critical illnesses. During the three-year training period, which includes an 18-month core program and 18-month lung cancer subspecialty track, fellows are exposed to a wide variety of medical problems in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. Learn more about our pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowships.


Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Institute offers continuing medical education courses through the Center for Continuing Education. We are providers of AMA-approved continuing medical education (CME) units for physicians and physician assistants, and of continuing education units by the Ohio Nurses Association for nurses and by the Ohio Respiratory Care Board for respiratory therapists.


Disease Management Project

Cleveland Clinic publishes an online medical reference, the Disease Management Project, which provides nationally-established treatment guidelines for the most common diseases and conditions. View an overview of treatment guidelines for:

Recommended Readings

View helpful publications written by Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Institute physicians about diagnosing, staging and treating lung cancer and other cancers of the chest.

Reviewed: 09/11