Lung Cancer

First hospital in Georgia to receive national lung cancer certification
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The Northside Hospital Cancer Institute (NHCI) Lung Cancer Program is among the top lung cancer care providers in Georgia, earning a Disease-Specific Care Certification for lung cancer – The Joint Commission® Gold Seal of Approval® for health care quality. Additionally, Northside Hospital Atlanta has been designated a GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer Care Continuum Center of Excellence (CCCOE).

What Is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is cancer that starts in the cells of the lungs. There are two main types of lung cancer:

When a patient's lung cancer is made up of both types, it is called mixed small cell/large cell cancer. When the cancer started somewhere else in the body and spread to the lungs, it is called metastatic cancer to the lung.

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Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Early stage lung cancer may not cause any symptoms. When symptoms occur, they depend on the type of lung cancer, but may include:

  • Coughing that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing or coughing
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
  • Coughing up blood or rust colored sputum
  • Fatigue
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness

Learn more about lung cancer symptoms.

Lung Cancer Risk Factors & Screening

Risk Factors

According to the NIH National Cancer Institute, lung cancer is most commonly diagnosed among people over 65 years of age with the average age of diagnosis at approximately 70. It is estimated there will be over 236,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in 2022.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. The more cigarettes a person smokes per day and the higher the number of years they smoke, the greater their risk for lung cancer. Secondhand smoke (breathing the smoke of others) increases a person’s risk of developing lung cancer. Lung cancer can also affect people who have never smoked.

The following are additional risk factors that have been linked to lung cancer:

  • Exposure to asbestos, cancer-causing chemicals, or radon gas
  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Radiation therapy to the chest (often from prior cancer treatment)

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking or using other tobacco products. Additionally, if you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, quitting will improve your treatment outcomes. If you or someone you care about needs help quitting, click here for information on our smoking and tobacco cessation program, Built to Quit.

Learn more about lung cancer risk factors.

Lung Cancer Screening

There is no guaranteed prevention against lung cancer, but regular screenings are pivotal to early detection when the disease is most treatable.

A computer tomography (CT) is a non-invasive, painless procedure that uses low-dose X-rays to screen the lungs for cancer. Lung cancer screening using CT has become the national standard based on findings from clinical trials and other research-related publications. Organizations such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) have developed clinical practice guidelines for lung cancer screening within high risk populations.

Northside Hospital Cancer Institute offers lung cancer screenings using CT at over 45 imaging locations throughout Georgia


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For Medicare patients, physicians will use the following criteria to determine whether a patient should be screened.

For non-Medicare patients, similar criteria will most likely be used by insurance providers to determine eligibility. Patients must have a written order from a physician to receive a lung cancer screening using CT.

For questions regarding lung cancer screening using CT or to determine whether you meet eligibility criteria, please call the Northside Hospital Lung Cancer Screening Concierge Line at 404-531-4626.


Northside Hospital Cancer Institute offers diagnostic procedures and specialized cancer care for all types of lung and other thoracic cancers, including:

A full evaluation by a pulmonologist, with additional imaging scans (chest X-ray, CT scan, PET scan), may be involved in the diagnosis of lung cancer.

A biopsy will ultimately establish a lung cancer diagnosis, which is often done during a bronchoscopy. Once all of this information is gathered, if cancer is confirmed, staging will take place (based on the size, location and extent of the tumor). This information is critical to determining appropriate treatment recommendations.

Visit the Interventional Pulmonology Program page for more information on lung cancer diagnostics.

Lung Nodule Clinic

At Northside Hospital, our lung cancer specialists work together to facilitate early diagnosis and timely care for patients with lung nodules.

Northside Hospital’s Lung Nodule Clinics deliver fast, accurate, and efficient diagnosis and management of suspicious lung nodules. Our clinics are designed to provide care to patients who receive an abnormal chest imaging report with a concerning lung nodule.

Learn more about our Lung Nodule Clinics

Lung Cancer Treatment Options

Treatment for lung cancer depends on the type and stage of lung cancer. Options typically include one or more treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and interventional pulmonology.

Click here to learn more about all of the NHCI cancer treatment options available.

Team of Lung Cancer Specialists

Northside’s lung cancer care team offers a comprehensive scope of medical services, the latest technology, leading-edge clinical research and compassionate support. Weekly multidisciplinary cancer conference provide a forum for our lung cancer specialists to review radiology and pathology images and discuss the best lung cancer treatment options, including clinical trials, and agree upon an evidence-based treatment plan for each patient. By discussing lung cancer cases during conference, lung cancer patients get the benefit of not just one clinical perspective but multiple lung cancer expert opinions.


Lung Cancer Support & Survivorship

Ongoing support is crucial when facing lung cancer and afterward. Northside Hospital Cancer Institute provides a full range of lung cancer support and survivorship programs and services to address the unique needs of lung cancer patients, including a lung cancer support group, nutrition, rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation, behavioral health and social work and cancer genetics.

Lung cancer treatment and recovery can be overwhelming, which is why our Lung Cancer Program offers patients access to oncology nurse navigators to guide them every step of their journey. Our lung cancer nurse navigators are registered nurses with extensive knowledge and training in oncology. They help guide patients through the lung cancer screening process and provide support and education after a lung cancer diagnosis and through treatment. They also work with the lung cancer team to coordinate treatment plans and facilitate communication between the patient and their oncology care team.

For lung cancer patients and survivors, Northside Hospital is ready to give you the support you need. To learn more about oncology patient navigation or to speak with an oncology nurse navigator, please email [email protected] or call 404-300-2800.



Northside Hospital encourages lung cancer awareness all-year long