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Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women. At Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, our specialists focus on a multidisciplinary approach that will make you confident that you are receiving the best possible care.

Lung Cancer at a Glance

Lung cancer is the second-most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. among men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. Though smoking rates are down in this country, lung cancer continues to occur in significant numbers: more than 221,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with the disease this year.

  • Symptoms

    Lung cancer symptoms tend to be localized in the lungs, from shortness of breath or wheezing to coughing up blood or mucus. But other symptoms, like chest pain, persistent fever, or unintentional weight loss can also be signs of lung cancer. With the help of lung cancer screening available at Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s, we can help you catch lung cancer early. That’s important because about 25% of lung cancer patients are exhibiting no symptoms at the time of diagnosis.

  • Steps to Diagnosis

    Once your primary care physician identifies the potential cause of your symptoms, they may refer you to a pulmonary specialist or pulmonologist. Suspected lung and thoracic cancer may be referred to a medical oncologist. We’ll take a multidisciplinary approach that considers your care from every angle.

  • Common Concerns

    Lung cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer among Arizonans. So regardless of size, location or stage. Especially with a multidisciplinary care team that puts you at the center of care.

  • Prevention

    The vast majority of lung and thoracic cancers have a single cause: smoking. There are other potential causes, such as environmental conditions and genetic traits, but limiting or eliminating exposure to tobacco through personal use or second-hand smoke is the best way to prevent lung cancer.


Your care team will carefully consider and discuss treatment options that are right for you, based on the type of malignancy, genetic profile, patient lifestyle, and individual resources.

An intravenous and/or oral medication that attacks and kills cancer cells in the body. Learn more

Intravenous medication that stimulates your immune system, by helping it recognize and destroy cancer cells. Learn more

A variety of procedures may remove the lung tumor and the nearby lymph nodes in the chest. Learn more

High-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, are used to kill cancer cells directly. Learn more

Therapy focused on blocking the growth and spread of cancer cells by targeting the specific genes, proteins, or tissue affected by cancer.

Our Approach

Our unique point of view allows us to take a step back and consider the best possible approach for you. We start by getting a complete picture of you, your genetic makeup, your risk factors, and the complex intricacies of what makes you a human being.

Our interdisciplinary team considers the right care plan from multiple perspectives, often consulting with internal experts to gather up-to-the-moment insight on treatment options.  

Then, your course of treatment will be designed to suit your exact personal medical needs, using medicine to do the most good while remaining minimally invasive. That means we’re focused not just on eradicating the disease, but on preserving your quality of life before, during, and after your treatment.

We are here to help you heal as a whole person.  Wherever your care path leads, you can be sure our entire team will be there with you every step of the way.

Senior couple dancing
  • Please contact us for more information about other cancers and conditions we treat including:

    • Non small cell lung cancer
    • Small cell lung cancer
    • Thymus cancer
    • Plueral cancer – known as mesothelioma
    • Chest wall cancer

Multidisciplinary Approach to Cancer Care

Patient Testimonial

Continuing Support

Wherever your individual care plan takes you, we’ll work closely with you to understand your preferences, and your needs – and be sure any additional support is ready when you need it, including:

  • Dietary or nutrition advisors, providing special focus and attention for chemo patients
  • Genetic counselors to help you understand your risk factors
  • Social workers dedicated to easing your emotional burdens and helping with community benefits
  • Financial counselors to help you understand the financial aspect and work with you to reduce the burden when possible
  • Specialty pharmacy liaisons who help authorize your prescriptions and educate you on managing side effects and taking your medicine properly
  • Nurse navigators to help guide you throughout the cancer institute, every step of the way
  • Physical and rehabilitation therapists who provide integrated care alongside your primary care plan

Frequently Asked Questions on Lung Health

At Dignity Health, our team of oncology experts are sensitive to your urgent needs and have compassion and humankindness. Our specialists work side-by-side to carefully review complex cases and develop personalized treatment plans.

Our skilled surgeons use minimally invasive surgical procedures to reduce risk and optimize outcomes. We invest in advanced imaging technologies and radiation therapies to target tumors with greater precision.

You should choose Dignity Health because we’ve built a reputation for innovative therapies and surgical techniques that minimize the need for temporary or permanent colostomies. Our holistic approach is evident in services designed to treat the whole person—mind, body, and spirit.

The services provided in the Thoracic Cancer Program at Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center include the diagnosis and treatment of malignant and high-risk diseases of the lungs, esophagus, trachea, chest wall, pleura and thymus. Treatments include surgerychemotherapy and radiation, as well as symptom management and survivor services

In addition to specializing in the treatment of thoracic cancers, our program is committed to participating in existing clinical investigations of new therapeutic medications. The program also is dedicated to designing more clinical trials and “translating” basic scientific discoveries in a lab into new medications and protocols that have the potential to help those with cancer.

For more information about our Thoracic Cancer Program or scheduling an appointment at Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s, please call (602) 825-2039.

The goal is a better understanding of how lung cancer and other thoracic cancers can be treated and managed.

Lung cancer occurs in one of two forms – non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. The types are based on the way the cells look under a microscope, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Non-small cell lung cancer is far more common than small cell lung cancer.

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer. About 85 percent of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma are all subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer.

Small cell lung cancer is also called oat cell cancer. About 10 to 15 percent of lung cancers are small cell lung cancers. This type of lung cancer tends to spread quickly, according to the American Cancer Society.

Though symptoms may not appear until lung cancer is in a late stage, these are some of the signs that may be present earlier:

  • a cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time
  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty swallowing
  • chest discomfort or pain
  • wheezing
  • swelling in the face and/or veins in the neck
  • blood in sputum coughed up from the lungs
  • hoarseness
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss for no apparent reason
  • feeling very tired

Lung cancer is the second-most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. among men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. Though smoking rates are down in this country, lung cancer continues to occur in significant numbers: more than 221,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with the disease this year.

Lung Cancer Screening – The lung cancer screening program at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center offers those with a high risk of lung cancer the opportunity to screen for and diagnose lung cancer before symptoms develop. To obtain more information or to make an appointment for a lung screening, call our toll-free number 1-855-LUNG-SCREEN (855) 586-4727.

Take a FREE Online Lung Cancer Risk Assessment - This online tool provides a personalized, strictly confidential information that will help you:

  • Identify your lung cancer risk factors
  • Learn if lung cancer screening is recommended for you 

For information about survival rates for this cancer, visit

For more information about lung cancer,

Pleural cancer is more commonly known as mesothelioma. The disease develops in the pleura, the soft tissue that surrounds the lungs. In almost all cases, pleural mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure.

For more information about mesothelioma, visit this page from the National Cancer Institute (NCI)

About 3,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with mesothelioma this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include a lingering cough and shortness of breath.

Thymus cancer, which is uncommon, starts in the small gland located just behind the breast bone in the front the chest. The thymus, part of the lymph system, sits just in front of and above the heart in the space between the lungs that contains the esophagus, part of the trachea, and lymph nodes. The thymus gland makes white blood cells that protect the body against infections.

For more information about thymus gland cancer, visit this page developed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Questions to ask your oncologist

  • What is my diagnosis and prognosis?
  • What is your experience in treating the cancer I have?
  • How will you determine the best treatment for me?
  • How long does each treatment option typically last, both individually and as a series of treatments?
  • How will you know if the treatment is making progress?

For more information about various types of cancer, cancer staging and treatment options, click on this link from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN): NCCN Guidelines for Patients® -

For more information about scheduling an appointment at Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s, please call (602) 825-2039.

You can minimize your risk of developing thoracic (chest) cancers through these steps:

  • Quit smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of many thoracic cancers.
  • Stay away from secondhand smoke. Over time, even secondhand smoke can raise your risk of lung cancer.

Search our network of oncologists in Phoenix and schedule your appointment today