Cleveland Clinic Florida’s cancer team delivers world-class care in the fight against lung cancer. Our team of highly specialized physicians, from pulmonologists and oncologists to thoracic surgeons, work together to provide lung cancer patients with innovative treatment plans and support services to help them through their cancer journey. While a lung cancer diagnosis is frightening, it can have a 90 percent survival rate if caught early.
If you think you might be at risk for lung cancer, take our online assessment.
Testing & Diagnosis
Diagnosing Lung Cancer
Physicians will conduct a physical exam, evaluate patients’ medical history, smoking history, exposure to environmental and occupational substances, and family history of cancer. The doctor will then order a variety of tests to help find the cause of symptoms.
Cleveland Clinic Florida makes it easy and convenient to schedule your diagnostics tests by providing many imaging centers throughout Central and South Florida. Some locations even take walk-ins, without an appointment. Cleveland Clinic Florida has the resources, technology and expertise to be a part of your lung health team. Please note that testing and diagnostics services may vary by location.
Testing & Diagnostics Locations*
Cleveland Clinic Indian River Vero Radiology Associates
Cleveland Clinic Family Health Center, Stuart
Cleveland Clinic Martin South Hospital
Cleveland Clinic Martin Health at St. Lucie West
Cleveland Clinic Florida’s Lozick Women’s Center
Cleveland Clinic Coral Springs
Tomsich Health and Medical Center of Palm Beach County
* Testing and diagnostics services may vary by location
Types of Testing & Diagnostic Services
If lung cancer is suspected, the doctor may order a chest x-ray as a first step in diagnosis, which may indicate a mass in the lungs or enlarged lymph nodes. If chest x-ray is normal, additional tests may be conducted if lung cancer is suspected. Because every mass is not cancerous, the additional tests may still be performed.
Low-Dose CT Scan
The low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans are a new testing procedure that can reduce deaths among high-risk patients by as much as 20 percent. A low-dose CT scan combines x-ray views from multiple angles to create a two-dimensional image of a person’s lungs. Physicians review these images for small abnormalities, or nodules.
Computer Assisted Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Frequently, a CT scan or an MRI will be performed as a follow-up to an abnormal chest x-ray or to evaluate abnormal symptoms in patients with a normal chest x-ray. CT scanning involves a series of x-rays that create a 3-D view of the lungs, while MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves to read the signals created by different types of tissues. Both can show the size, shape and location of a tumor. They are very useful tools in determining whether or not the tumor has spread from the lung to other parts of the chest or to other parts of the body.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scans
During a PET scan a very small dose of radioactive chemical, called a radiotracer, is injected into a vein in the arm. The radiotracer travels through the body and is absorbed by the organs and tissues. A scanner detects and records the energy given off by the tracer substance. A PET scan can measure such vital functions as blood flow, oxygen use, and glucose metabolism, which helps doctors identify abnormal from normal functioning organs and tissues.
Integrated PET-CT Scans
A PET-CT scan combines the images from both a PET and a CT scan. As the PET scanner detects signals of actively growing cancer cells in the body, the CT scan creates a three-dimensional picture of the internal anatomy that reveals the location, size and shape of abnormal cancerous growths. The two scans are performed at the same time and on the same machine, creating a more complete image of tumors or any abnormalities.
Autofluorescence Bronchoscopy is a special light that is used inside the lung through a small scope. This light is able to detect suspicious areas of possible cancer in the bronchia tubes that are not clearly seen by standard bronchoscopy.
Biopsy and Tissue Sampling
If diagnostic imaging tests are abnormal, tissue sampling may be conducted to confirm a diagnosis. The doctor may examine mucus in the lungs and will examine tissue from the lung to see if cancer cells are present. A number of procedures may be used to obtain tissue for biopsy.
Sputum cytology is a simple test in which the doctor obtains a sample of the mucus in the lungs to examine microscopically. Because it cannot pinpoint the tumor's location, a positive sputum cytology test is usually combined with imaging tests and a tissue biopsy.
Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)
EBUS is a technique where a special, very small scope, with a tiny ultrasound at the tip allows the pulmonologist to perform biopsies in multiple areas. This allows the specialist to minimize the risk of puncturing a blood vessel and allows for better accuracy, since they can see that the needle is placed inside the abnormality with the ultrasound.
Esophageal Ultrasound (EUS)
EUS is a special technique, where a special, scope, with a tiny ultrasound at the tip of the scope allows the physician to perform biopsies in multiple areas. This allows the specialist to minimize the risk of puncturing a blood vessel and allows for better accuracy, since we can see that the needle is placed inside the lesion with the ultrasound.
Transbronchial Needle Aspiration Biopsy
Transbronchial Needle Aspiration Biopsy uses a small scope to go to distant areas in the lung where a small biopsy forceps is used to remove tiny pieces of lung to make the accurate diagnosis of lung conditions in the outpatient setting.
Transtracheal Needle Aspiration Biopsy
Transtracheal needle aspiration is a procedure used to collect secretions from inside the trachea through a catheter for analysis.
Flexible Biopsy Techniques
Biopsy procedures are performed with very small scopes using sedation techniques that keep patients very comfortable and asleep.
Percutaneous Needle Biopsy
Chest radiologists perform computerized guided biopsy of tumors at multiple areas in the chest reducing the need for surgical biopsies to make a diagnosis. Those procedures are done on an outpatient basis with the patient going home the same day.
Ultrasound Guided Thoracentesis
Ultrasound Guided Thoracentesis removes abnormal fluid from the pleural space between the lung and the chest wall using ultrasound.
CT Guided Biopsy
A CT Guided Lung Biopsy uses real-time CT images to ensure biopsy samples are accurately taken from the desired part of the lung. These biopsy samples are check for adequacy by a pathologist during the procedure to make sure a diagnostic sample is obtained.
A vascular access procedure involves the insertion of a flexible thin plastic tube, or catheter, into a blood vessel to provide a painless way of collecting blood samples for analysis.
Treatments & Procedures
Florida Lung Cancer Treatment Options
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery are used to treat lung cancer. Our Cancer Centers - Maroone, Robert and Carol Weissman and Scully-Welsh - provide patients with the latest surgical and non-surgical treatment options. Treatment is based on the type and stage of the patient’s cancer, where the tumor is located and the patient’s overall health.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
Cleveland Clinic Florida’s state of the art infusion unit is available for chemotherapy and biologics treatments. The infusion unit is fully staffed with highly trained oncology doctors, nurses and pharmacists and features semi-private areas with individual televisions.
Immunotherapy is a treatment using your body’s own immune system and cells to fight the cancer. Immunotherapy is increasingly being used to fight lung cancer and many other cancers.
Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses medication to destroy cancer cells. It is also used to stop, slow the growth or shrink cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often administered through catheters and ports.
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) for curative intent. Radiation also plays an important role in the care of patients with advanced cancer by providing relief from pain, airway obstruction, shortness of breath, or coughing.
Is an advanced radiotherapy technology for treating cancer that combines imaging, beam delivery and sophisticated motion management to accurately and precisely target tumors with speed. Real-time imaging tools allow clinicians to “see” the tumor they are about to treat. This gives them confidence, and they can target tumors with accuracy measured in millimeters.
- Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
SBRT is a treatment for non-small cell lung tumors that are small and confined to the lung. SBRT combines image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) with even more advanced techniques to deliver extremely high doses of radiation to the tumor while minimizing the dose to nearby tissue and structures.
- Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
IMRT uses computers and three-dimensional images from CT scans to focus small radiation beams on and around the tumor without affecting surrounding organs.
Brachytherapy places a small catheter in the lung so radiation can be given inside the bronchial tube. This is utilized in patients with central tumors or tumors inside the airway, as well as patients who have received large doses of external radiation.
- Laser Bronchoscopy for Tumor Destruction
Laser Bronchoscopy uses a laser to destroy airway tumors or lesions as well as eliminate obstructions in the bronchial tubes that cause shortness of breath.
- Electrocautery Bronchoscopy for Destruction of Lesions and Removal of Polyps
Electrocautery bronchoscopy uses electric currents to destroy benign and malignant tumors in the bronchial tubes. It also helps to open up obstructed airways and to stop bleeding.
- Argon Plasma Coagulation
Argon Plasma coagulation uses mild electric currents to destroy benign and malignant tumors in bronchial tubes, open up obstructed airways, and stop bleeding.
- Photodynamic Therapy
Photodynamic therapy uses an injection of a special chemical in the blood that is absorbed by cancer cells in the lungs. After the chemical is given, special light is used to activate the chemical absorbed inside the tumor cell, destroying the tumor cell but not affecting the healthy ones. This can be very useful in early stages of cancer to prevent further growth.
Surgical Treatment Options
- Airway Stent Placement for Narrowing of the Airway Stents are small cylindrical expandable tubes, very similar to the types used by cardiologists to open up arteries in the heart. They are used to open bronchial tubes that are occluded or narrowed due to infection, tumors or scar tissues.
- Balloon Dilation for Tracheal and Bronchial Stenosis
Balloon dilation for tracheal and bronchial stenosis uses small balloons to dilate bronchial tubes. The procedure passes the balloons through small bronchoscopes. The procedure is similar to angioplasties performed by cardiologists, except that it is done on the bronchial tubes.
- PleurX Catheter Placement
This treatment involves placement of a pig-tail catheter in the pleural spare when fluid continues to re-accumulate, especially in patients with malignant pleural effusions.
A mediastinoscopy is a surgical procedure that allows the surgeon to examine the inside of the upper chest between and in front of the lungs (mediastinum). A small cut is made in the neck just above the breastbone or on the left side of the chest next to the breastbone. Then a thin scope (mediastinoscope) is inserted to remove tissue for biopsy or to examine and evaluate tumors in the middle chest.
Cryotherapy uses cold energy and freezing temperatures to treat bronchial lesions.
- Video Assisted Thorascopic Surgery
Video assisted thorascopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to diagnose and stage lung cancer as well as remove cancerous and benign tumors. During VATS a tiny camera with a light source is inserted through a small incision in the ribs. A second small incision is used to insert special instruments between the ribs and into the chest cavity.
This is a procedure similar to laparoscopy but when performed in the chest, it is called pleuroscopy or video thoracoscopy. A small instrument with a camera is inserted into the chest cavity through a very small incision allowing the physician to do diagnostic and therapeutic procedures inside the chest.
- Sleeve Resection
This is a surgical procedure to remove the cancerous part of the lung and part of the bronchus (airway) attached to it. The ends of the remaining bronchus are rejoined and reattached to the remaining lobe. This procedure spares the healthy portion of the lung.
- Limited or Wedge Resection
A limited or wedge resection is a surgical procedure to remove a wedge-shaped portion of the lung, including the tumor and a surrounding margin of healthy tissue. This procedure is performed as an alternative to lobectomy.
A lobectomy is the surgical removal of a large section of lung. It is the most common surgery performed to treat lung cancer. Lobectomy has been traditionally performed during thoracotomy surgery. During thoracotomy surgery, an incision is made on the side of the chest between the ribs. The ribs are then spread apart so the surgeon can see into the chest cavity and remove the tumor or affected tissue.
A pneumonectomy removes one whole lung when the cancer cannot be treated by removing a smaller portion.
- Smoking Cessation Programs
Individuals diagnosed with lung cancer or those who wish to end their nicotine addiction can work with professionals at Cleveland Clinic Florida’s Smoking Cessation Program to quit smoking or take advantage of other smoking cessation programs. For more information on the smoking cessation program, or to talk with a specialist about quitting, please call: 954.659.5978.
To schedule a consultation or appointment, call 877.463.2010.
Appointments & Locations
Cleveland Clinic Florida makes scheduling easy. Whether it’s a doctor’s appointment or a diagnostic test, we have locations throughout Central and South Florida for your convenience. Call us or make an appointment online to schedule a consultation at a location near you.
You can now stay connected to your healthcare team through virtual visits, using your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Why go virtual? It's an easy, convenient and secure way to see your provider face-to-face without having to leave home. This saves you travel time, parking fees and time spent in the waiting room — and you can also have a loved one or caregiver join you. If appropriate, you can also get a prescription sent to the pharmacy of your choice.
Many insurance companies cover the cost of virtual visits, so check with your insurance company ahead of time. Interested in getting started? Call your provider to find out what virtual visit options are available.
Patient Resource and Education Centers are located in each of our cancer centers, Maroone Cancer Center, Robert and Carol Weissman Cancer Center and Scully-Welsh Cancer Center, and provide patients and their friends and families with information and resources to help them navigate through their cancer diagnosis. For more information, visit our Cancer Support Services page.
Patient Navigator / Social Work Services
For a patient diagnosed with lung cancer, learning how to fight the disease can be an emotional, frightening experience with more questions than answers. That's where our patient navigators can help. Whether you have been recently diagnosed, are already living with lung cancer, or had a recurrence of the disease, our navigators can help you cope with the anxiety of being diagnosed with cancer, provide information and resources, reduce any barriers to services, and help expedite access to care.
You may refer yourself or ask your physician to refer you.
- Maroone Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston, FL
- Robert and Carol Weissman Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic Martin Health, Stuart, FL
Call 772.223.5945, ext. 13748 or ext. 13719
- Scully-Welsh Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital, Vero Beach, FL
Support Services at the Maroone Cancer Center, Robert and Carol Weissman Cancer Center, and Scully-Welsh Cancer Center serve as vital resource centers for our patients and community efforts in prevention, early detection, education, outreach and support. Support services* vary by location and include:
- Art Therapy
- Caring Touch Services
- Beauty/Body Image Services
- Chair Yoga
- Craniosacral Therapy
- Gentle Therapeutic Massages
- Gentle Yoga
- Dietary Services and Nutritional Counseling
- Genetic Counseling
- Music Therapy Services
- Patient Navigation Services
- Psychological Services
- Smoking Cessation
- Social Work Services
- Support Groups
- Survivorship Services
- Wig Boutique and Wellness Store
*Additional information is available in our Patient Resource and Education Centers or online at ClevelandClinicFlorida.org/CancerSupportServices. We always recommend contacting the location nearest you for the most up-to-date information.
Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of getting a disease, such as cancer. Several risk factors make a person more likely to develop lung cancer. Risk factors include:
- Smoking: Is the leading cause of lung cancer, with about 80% of lung cancer deaths thought to be a result of smoking.
- Secondhand smoke: This refers to breathing in the smoke of others.
- Radon: A radioactive gas that cannot been seen, tasted, or smelled. It is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium. High levels of radon may be found in some homes or other buildings, especially basements.
- Asbestos exposure
- Talc: While no increased risk of lung cancer has been found from the use of cosmetic talcum powder, some studies of talc miners and millers suggest a higher risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases from their exposure to industrial-grade talc. Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral which, in its natural form, may contain asbestos; however, by law, all home-use talcum products (baby, body, and facial powders) have been asbestos-free since
- Cancer-causing agents in the workplace, including:
- Radioactive ores, such as uranium
- Vinyl chloride
- Nickel chromates
- Coal products
- Mustard gas
- Chloromethyl ethers
- Diesel exhaust
- Personal or family history of lung cancer
- Air pollution: In some cities, air pollution may slightly increase the risk of lung cancer.
Cleveland Clinic can help you access hundreds of clinical trials across all specialty areas. Our new searchable online trials tool makes identifying treatment opportunities easier than ever. Cancer clinical trials offer patients important treatment options and access to the latest treatments and procedures resulting from cancer research.
Questions you should ask the doctor or study nurse about cancer clinical trials:
- What is the purpose of the study?
- What has previous research of this treatment shown?
- What is likely to happen in my case with, or without the treatment?
- Are there standard treatments for my type of cancer?
- How does this study compare with standard treatment options?
- What phase is this cancer clinical trial?
- What are the possible short and long-term risks, side effects and benefits of the treatment?
- What kinds of treatments, medical tests, or procedures will I have during the study? And how do they compare with what I would receive outside of the study?
- How long will the study last? Will there be a follow-up after the study?
- Where will my treatment take place? Will I have to be in the hospital?
- How will I know the treatment is working?
- How could the study affect my daily life?
- Will my records be kept confidential?
- Will my insurance pay for the treatments?
- If I decide to withdraw from the study, will my care be affected? Will I need to change doctors?
Cleveland Clinic Florida’s cancer teams have made enormous progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. One of the most important advances is the ability to tailor treatment based on the risks and benefits for a specific patient, which could lead to better outcomes and fewer side effects. Learn more about the Florida Research & Innovation Center
Additional Lung Cancer Resources