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Lung Cancer


Lung cancer is a cancer that generally starts in the cells that line the airways of the lungs. The 2 basic types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer.

The Lungs


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


You may need to walk around the same day of surgery, or the day after. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your healthcare provider says you can. Talk to healthcare providers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy. Then press the call light button to let healthcare providers know you need help.


Keep the head of your bed raised to help you breathe easier. You can also raise your head and shoulders up on pillows or rest in a reclining chair. If you feel short of breath, let healthcare providers know right away.

You may need extra oxygen

if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent an infection.
  • Antinausea medicine helps calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
  • Pain medicine may be given to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.


  • Blood tests may show an infection.
  • An x-ray, CT, or MRI may show the size and location of the tumor. You may be given contrast liquid to help the tumor show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A bronchoscopy is a test to look inside your airway and lungs. Healthcare providers insert a bronchoscope (a tube with a light and magnifying glass) into your mouth and down into your lungs.
  • A biopsy is a sample of lung tissue usually collected during a bronchoscopy. The sample will be tested for cancer.
  • A bone scan can show if cancer has spread to your bones. You may need a bone scan if you have bone pain.


  • Surgery may be done on tumors that are small and have not spread to other parts of the body. If the tumor cannot be completely removed, surgery may be used to treat complications or to decrease your symptoms.
  • Medicine may be used to kill cancer cells. It may also be used to shrink lymph nodes that have cancer in them.
  • Radiation therapy uses x-rays or gamma rays to treat cancer. Radiation kills cancer cells and may stop the cancer from spreading.


You may get a blood clot in your arm or leg. This may become life-threatening. Even with treatment, the cancer may spread or return.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Lung Cancer (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.