FAQs | Phoenix CyberKnife Radiation & Oncology Center

Phoenix Lung Cancer FAQs

As the leading cancer killer of both men and women in the U.S., there are often many questions about the disease, the treatments, and the prognosis. The board certified radiation oncologists at Phoenix CyberKnife & Radiation Oncology Center can ease your fears and answer all of your questions. We are here to discuss all of your treatment options and provide knowledgeable, compassionate care to you and your family. Our goal is to provide the best possible treatment at our top cancer care center in Phoenix for your specific situation that will result in the best outcomes.

Q: Should I be screened for lung cancer?

Since oftentimes lung cancer is not detected until later stages it can be a good ideas for people who are at high risk to have lung cancer screenings so it can be detected early when it is more treatable. However, you should discuss the options with your doctor because there is a chance of false positives and you are exposed to low doses of radiation during the screening process. In a 2011 study, researchers showed that CT scans reduced lung cancer mortality by 20%. Medicare and Medicaid services, and many private insurance companies, will pay for yearly screenings but only for people who qualify using this criterion:

  • Aged 55 to 77 (or 80 for some private insurers)
  • Have at least a 30 pack-year history of smoking
  • Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years

Q: What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

Many times you won’t know you have lung cancer until it has reached later stages. It is often diagnosed from a chest x-ray taken for other reasons. Symptoms are often common symptoms of people who smoke have any way such as cough or shortness of breath. Once the cancer progresses into later stages, you may have some of all of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent coughing that gets worse
  • Recurring pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Shortness of breath, accompanied by wheezing
  • Chest pain that is constant
  • Swelling in the neck and face
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Hoarse voice
  • Fatigue
  • Bone pain
  • Headache

If you have a high risk of symptoms of lung cancer, your doctor may order a CT scan and possibly X-rays to look for abnormal cell groupings in your lungs. If found, additional testing and, likely, a biopsy will be taken to confirm the diagnosis. Then, your Phoenix CyberKnife experts will team with your medical team to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

Q: I’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer. Should I get a second opinion?

Most doctors would strongly suggest that you seek a second opinion to confirm your lung cancer diagnosis. The cancer experts at Phoenix CyberKnife often give second opinions to patients and offer the added benefit of consulting with your primary oncologists in determining the best treatment options available.

Q: What are the survival rates for lung cancer?

When the cancer is found early, while still localized within the lungs, the survival rate for lung cancer is 55 percent. However, only 16 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage. More than half of people with lung cancer die within one year of being diagnosed. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is only 17.7 percent, which is lower than many other types of cancer. More than half of the people with lung cancer die within one year of being diagnosed.

Q: Are my chances of getting lung cancer higher because I smoke cigarettes?

Yes, smoking is a serious contributing factor in causing small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. Smoking contributes 80% of lung cancer deaths in women and 90% in men. Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Women are 13 times more likely, compared to people who have never smoked. Between 2005 and 2010, an average of 130,659 Americans died of lung cancer from smoking each year (source: American Cancer Society).

Q: Does secondhand smoke really increase my risk of getting lung cancer?

Yes. Researchers believe that nonsmokers have a 20% to 30% greater chance of developing lung cancer if they are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work.

Q: What are other risk factors increase my chance of getting lung cancer?

Radon, a naturally occurring gas produced by decomposing uranium in the earth, is the culprit for about 20% of lung cancer deaths each year. This tasteless, odorless gas, is the second-leading cause of lung cancer and often combines with smoking to increase risk even more. Lung cancer risks can also increase for those who are exposed at work to asbestos, uranium, and coke (a fuel made from coal). The combination of asbestos exposure and smoking greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer.

Q: What are my treatment options for lung cancer?

There are several treatments for lung cancer including surgery, chemotherapy, and a variety of radiation therapies. The treatment options vary depending on your type and stage of lung cancer. You will find a comprehensive array of radiation therapies at Phoenix CyberKnife. Visit our Detection and Treatment page to find details about the radiology services available to you.

Q: Are there side effects from radiation therapy for my lung cancer?

High doses of radiation are used to kill cancer cells during cancer treatment. This radiation can also affect surrounding tissue and organs. Because of the advanced technology at Phoenix CyberKnife, the damage to surrounding tissue is greatly minimized, giving you fewer side effects. However, general side effects from radiation include fatigue and skin irritations (itching, peeling, dryness, redness) at the site of the radiation. Side effects from lung cancer radiation treatment may also include difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, lung or nipple soreness, stiff shoulder, fever and cough, and fibrosis (scarring of the lungs).

More Questions? Call Us Today For All The Answers.

We are ready to answer any questions you have about your lung cancer treatment options at Phoenix CyberKnife. Give us a call today at (602) 441-3845 or reach out to us using our convenient online appointment form. Our oncology team of cancer specialists can explain the different ways they can treat tumors throughout your body using the most advanced non-surgical and non-invasive radiation therapy systems available. Doctors throughout the Southwest trust the experts at Phoenix CyberKnife.  We look forward to your questions.

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