Diagnosing Lung Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be approximately 228,150 new cases of lung cancer in the US in 2019.1

MSK is engaged in research related to all aspects of care and is pioneering new approaches — including immunotherapy — to fight lung cancer.

For many people, the first sign that they may have lung cancer is the appearance of a suspicious spot on a chest x-ray or a CT scan. But an image alone is not enough to tell you whether you have cancer and, if so, what type of cancer it is. The specialists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) can guide you through the process.

Most people who come to MSK for a lung cancer diagnosis first meet with a surgeon. He or she will work with pathologists, radiologists, and other lung cancer specialists to determine the specific type of lung cancer you have and how advanced it is. These findings help your disease management team develop the most effective treatment plan for you.

The first step is for your doctor to get a tissue sample using one of several biopsy methods. Then a lung cancer pathologist — a doctor who specializes in diagnosing the disease — studies the tissue under a microscope to identify whether you have lung cancer and, if so, what type.

Lung Cancer Treatment at MSK

Lung Cancer Treatment at MSK

Every person who comes to MSK for lung cancer treatment receives compassionate, personalized care from our expert disease management team. Your team will include doctors, nurses, and other experts whose sole focus is on cancers of the chest.

Specialists from all areas of lung cancer care will work together to design a treatment plan especially for you. Bringing together experts in surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and quality-of-life issues helps MSK ensure that it chooses the combination of therapies that will most effectively address your specific type of cancer.

People who choose care at MSK have access to:

  • the experience of a team of skilled surgeons that performs more than 1,200 operations for lung cancer each year, with one of the lowest complication rates in the country
  • new chemotherapy drugs and other therapies being evaluated through our program of clinical trials. This means that patients may have access to treatment options being studied that are not available in most other hospitals.
  • a customized treatment plan using genetic information about your tumor
  • delivery of powerful doses of radiation therapy directly to your tumor through the most precise methods available
  • rehabilitation experts to help manage the side effects of lung cancer and its treatments

Access MSK Care, Close to Home

At MSK, you will receive advanced, comprehensive cancer care from an experienced and compassionate team of cancer specialists — as well as practical and emotional support — to address your unique disease and circumstances.

Consistently ranked among the top hospitals for cancer care in the United States, MSK is well known for its hospital location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

MSK also has a number of state-of-the-art outpatient facilities located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island, Westchester, and New Jersey, where you can receive the same outstanding cancer care closer to home.

For more information about treatment for lung cancer, please visit

Learn More: Search by Cancer Type at MSK

1American Cancer Society, Surveillance Research, 2019

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