Forms & Information

Ask An Expert

Lung Cancer: "Ask an Expert" and Frequently Asked Questions

Your questions answered by Providence lung cancer experts. Find answers to many questions that are commonly asked about smoking, tobacco use and lung cancer.

Ask an Expert: Can a three-year smoker become as healthy as a lifelong nonsmoker?

Q: “I’m 23 years old, and the thing I regret most is putting that first cigarette in my mouth. I’ve been smoking for three years, 18 to 25 cigarettes a day. Today, I decided to quit. In three years of smoking, how much did I damage my body? Is there any chance of becoming as healthy as a lifelong nonsmoker?”

Ask an expert: Why do nonsmokers get lung cancer?

Q: “I know two women who have lung cancer, and neither of them has ever smoked. How could this happen to them? I thought lung cancer was caused by smoking.”

Ask an Expert: Why does cancer come back?

Q: “If lung cancer is caught in the early stage and removed surgically, how does it come back? My surgeon said that he removed it all and there was no cancer in the nodes — but now it’s back. Why?”

Ask an Expert: Lung cancer growth and spread

Q: "How long does it take for lung cancer to develop, and can I determine when mine started growing?"

Ask an Expert: Lung cancer treatment

Q: “I was a lifelong smoker until last week, when I found out that I have lung cancer. Now I’m in fear for my life. What treatment approach do you recommend? Is there any hope for successful treatment?”

Ask an Expert: If there’s no lung cancer in your family history, is it safe for you to smoke?

Q: "Both of my parents smoked their entire lives and never developed lung cancer. My father's parents were the same. With this family history, do I still need to worry about lung cancer? I only smoke about a pack a week."

Ask an Expert: Best bets to help you quit smoking for good

Q: “I’ve tried to quit smoking several times, but it never sticks. With Oregon’s new smoking ban in effect, I’m ready to be done with it. Are there any new drugs or programs that can improve my results? What is the most effective, proven way to quit for good?”

Answer from Meera Jain, M.D., co-medical director, Providence Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program:

Ask an Expert: Benefits of smoking cessation at any age

Q: "My 65-year-old father has been smoking for decades and refuses to quit. He knows smoking causes cancer but says quitting will do no good because the damage is already done. Would quitting now do anything to reduce his risk?"

Ask an Expert: Concerns of a first-time smoker

Q: “I’m 17, and I've smoked twice in my life, both times last month. Now I’m coughing and my chest has a raw feeling to it. I’m not coughing up blood and I don't have shortness of breath, but I did hold the smoke in my mouth, and I breathed a little second-hand smoke, too. Could I have lung cancer?”

Ask an Expert: Chemotherapy and insomnia

Q: I'm undergoing chemo, and though I am experiencing heavy-duty fatigue, I am also suffering from insomnia! Sometimes it's hard to fall asleep; other nights I wake up around 3 a.m. for an hour or two. My medical oncologist said chemo can disrupt the sleep-wake cycle and prescribed Ambien. I don't like the idea of relying on a sleeping pill. Anything else I can do?

Answer from Miles Hassell, M.D., director of Providence Integrative Medicine at Providence Cancer Center:

Ask an Expert: Cancer prevention for the ex-smoker

Q: "I quit smoking 15 years ago after smoking a pack or two a day for 28 years. Now I want to do all I can to lessen the effects of my earlier bad habits. Are there any dietary measures, supplements or other strategies you know of that may help prevent cancer?"

Ask an Expert: Shortness of breath following lung cancer surgery

Q: "I was diagnosed with lung cancer six months ago and underwent surgery as part of my treatment. Since then I find myself getting short of breath very easily. Will this go away with time?" 

Forms Instructions

Lung cancer patient information

Find information about diagnosis, treatment, and living with lung cancer.

Thoracic Oncology Program Symposia and Seminars

Lung cancer educational seminars are offered annually in November. These are on a three-year rotation with seminars specific to primary care providers, lung specialists and patients.

Thoracic Surgery Outcomes Data

Patients and referring physicians need ready access to quality indicators when making decisions about surgical care.

Ninth Annual Providence Thoracic Oncology Symposium for specialists

View the archived presentations of our 2010 symposia presented to lung cancer specialists

Proprietary Health Article

Lung Cancer FAQ: Lung cancer types and treatments

Q: "What are the different types of lung cancer and what treatments are used for each type?"

Lung Cancer FAQ: Inherited risk of lung cancer

Q: "I have lung cancer, what risk is there that my family will develop lung cancer?"

Lung Cancer FAQ: Risk of cancer from smoking

Q: "What is the real risk of getting lung cancer if you smoke cigarettes and is there a "safe" smoking level?"

Lung Cancer FAQ: Symptoms of lung cancer

Q: What symptoms of lung cancer would be important to have checked out by a physician?

Lung Cancer FAQ: Secondhand smoke

Q: My father and mother smoked during my childhood, what is my risk of lung cancer from this second hand smoke?

Lung Cancer FAQ: Risk of exposure from smoking ten years ago

Q: I stopped smoking ten years ago, how much risk is there that I will develop lung cancer?

Lung Cancer FAQ: Chemotherapy for stage IV lung cancer

Q: "I have stage IV lung cancer. Why is chemotherapy sometimes used to treat later stage (Stage IV) lung cancer? What would happen if I did not take chemotherapy?"

Lung Cancer FAQ: Asbestos exposure

Q: "My father was exposed to asbestos at work when he was young, I heard asbestos is a risk factor for lung cancer. What is his risk?"

Lung Cancer FAQ: Using bronchoscopy to detect lung cancer

Q: What is a bronchoscopy and why is it used to detect lung cancer?

Lung cancer screening comes of age

Advanced imaging now leads to earlier detection and better outcomes. Which of your patients will benefit most from annual screening? – By Jonathan Daniel, M.D., thoracic surgeon

2008 Seventh Annual Providence Thoracic Oncology Symposium for Primary Care Providers

The 2008 symposium was held November 14 at the Providence Cancer Center in Portland, Oregon. Its objectives included teaching effective procedures to detect lung cancer; becoming familiar with the multidisciplinary approach to managing and treating lung cancer at Providence Cancer Center; and teaching effective ways to address tobacco dependence and to support patients’ efforts to quit smoking.

Providence Stop-Smoking Resources

If you smoke, one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health is to quit smoking. Providence Health & Services supports you in this effort. The resources below can help you stop smoking for good.

Promising developments in lung cancer screening

A large national study reports that suspicious findings were three times greater with CT scans than with chest X-rays. – By Rachel E. Sanborn, M.D., medical oncologist

Smoking’s Immediate Effects on the Body

Many teenagers and adults think that there are no effects of smoking on their bodies until they reach middle age. Smoking-caused lung cancer, other cancers, heart disease, and stroke typically do not occur until years after a person's first cigarette. However, there are many serious harms from smoking that occur much sooner. In fact, smoking has numerous immediate health effects on the brain and on the respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, immune and metabolic systems.

Smoking: You CAN kick the habit – and we can help

You already know that smoking is unhealthy. The word has been out since the first Surgeon General’s Report in 1964. One out of four smokers will die from their tobacco addiction. More than 420,000 will die this year. It is the single most preventable cause of death or illness in our country.

Studying apricoxib with erlotinib for lung cancer

A trial testing apricoxib with erlotinib showed longer survival in younger patients with metastatic lung cancer, but failed to meet its goal. – By Rachel E. Sanborn, M.D., medical oncologist

Thoracic Oncology Multidisciplinary Care Approach

Providence Thoracic Oncology Program takes a multidisciplinary care approach to treating lung cancer. Your multidisciplinary thoracic oncology care team consists of the following trained specialists:

The Risks of Smoking -- and the Benefits of Quitting

Let’s get specific: Reivew this chart to remind yourself of the risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting.

Crizotinib may be a powerful weapon against lung cancer

In early studies, nearly 90 percent of patients with an ALK genetic mutation responded to the drug, which targets metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. – By Rachel E. Sanborn, M.D., co-medical director, Providence Thoracic Oncology Program

The Benefits of Stopping Smoking

Imagine, for a moment, being inside your lungs, watching the millions of tiny hairs called cilia do their job of filtering out impurities. Then, observe as the smoke from one cigarette invades the lungs, paralyzing the cilia for 24 hours.

Recommended Resource

Look Good, Feel Better

This website is a free, non-medical service program created to help individuals with cancer look good, improve their self-esteem and manage their treatment and recovery with greater confidence.

Healthfinder.gov: Smoking Cessation

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services resource page on Smoking Cessation including a quick guide to healthy living and tools to quit.

Healthfinder.gov: Lung Cancer

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services page on Lung Cancer. The site lists risks and causes of lung cancer, along with resources for additional facts and information.

Oregon Tobacco Quit Line

Oregon’s resource for smoking cessation. Provides online tools and support in English and Spanish.

Patterns of surgical care of lung cancer patients

BACKGROUND: This survey was performed to determine the patterns of surgical care provided patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). METHODS: In 2001, the American College of Surgeons carried out a patient care survey of 729 hospitals to retrieve information of NSCLC patients' history, evaluation, pathology, and surgical treatment. 

Quitnet

Quitnet is an online community dedicated to quitting smoking. It includes a community room, resources, tools and support for people who want to quit online.

Medline Plus: Smoking

U.S. National Library of Medicine Medline Plus topic tool on what smoking is and does to the body.

Medline Plus: Quitting Smoking

U.S. National Library of Medicine Medline Plus topic tool on quitting smoking. Provides a guide, overview, research and resources.

Medline Plus: Lung cancer

U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus page on lung cancer. This page provides definition, symptoms and resources for treatmtent.

Morbidity and Mortality of Major Pulmonary Resections in Patients with Early-Stage Lung Cancer: Initial Results of the Randomized, Prospective ACOSOG Z0030 Trial.

Abstract BACKGROUND: Little prospective, multiinstitutional data exist regarding the morbidity and mortality after major pulmonary resections for lung cancer or whether a mediastinal lymph node dissection increases morbidity and mortality.

Surgeon Specialty and Operative Mortality with Lung Resection.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: We sought to examine the effect of subspecialty training on operative mortality following lung resection. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: While several different surgical subspecialists perform lung resection for cancer, many believe that this procedure is best performed by board-certified thoracic surgeons. 

Specialists Achieve Better Outcomes than Generalists for Lung Cancer Surgery

Abstract: Objective: A push toward care provided by generalists as opposed to specialists has occurred in the health-care marketplace despite a lack of provider specific outcome data. The objective of this study was to determine whether the outcome of patients undergoing lung cancer surgery is different between general surgeons (GSs) and thoracic surgeons (TSs).

CancerCare.org

Cancer Care is a national nonprofit that provides free, professional support services for anyone affected by cancer.

Cancer.net (AKA: People Living with Cancer)

Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology

Cancer.net: Lung cancer resources

Cancer.Net page for lung cancer provides an overview of the disease, statistics and places to go to learn about risk factors and treatment.

American Board of Thoracic Surgery

The primary purpose and most essential function of the Board is to protect the public by establishing and maintaining high standards in thoracic surgery. 

American College of Surgeons Oncology Group

The American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG) was established to evaluate the surgical management of patients with malignant solid tumors.

American Association for Thoracic Surgery Website

American Association for Thoracic Surgery is a website promoting scholarship in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery.

American Lung Association

The American Lung Association website is a patient and care provider resource with information about respiratory illnesses from asthma to emphysema. Includes causes, warning signs and symptoms, research and patient care treatment resources.

American Cancer Society: Guide to Quitting Smoking

The American Cancer Society’s guide to quitting smoking including questions people need to know about quitting and the steps to do so.

American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society’s home page with links to all types of cancer, symptoms, treatment options, statistics trials and ways to contribute. 

American Cancer Society: Cancer staging

American Cancer Society’s description and explanation of staging cancer. Staging is the process of finding out how much cancer there is in the body and where it is located. It is how the doctor learns the stage of a person's cancer. Doctors use this information to plan treatment and to help find out a person's outlook (prognosis). 

Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine: Symptoms of tobacco dependence after brief intermittent use

A research article on the development and assessment of nicotine dependence in Youth-2 Study (youth who smoke occasionally.)

American Thoracic Society Website

The American Thoracic Society was founded to help find a cure for tuberculosis. Today, the society is devoted to ongoing lung health and research.

Aetna InteliHealth: Tobacco Cessation

Aetna’s InteliHealth resource on tobacco cessation including the basics and resources for quitting.

KidsCope.org

The KidsCope website explains the non-profit program designed to help children and families understand the effects of cancer or chemotherapy on a loved one.

EPA: Health Effects of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and exposure to secondhand smoke is sometimes called involuntary or passive smoking. Secondhand smoke contains more that 4,000 substances, several of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals.

National Cancer Institute

National Cancer Institute home page with links to all cancer topics, clinical trial information, statistics, research and treatment information.

National Cancer Institute Smoking Quitline

National Cancer Institute’s page on free resources available to help someone quit smoking, including the national Quit Line.

National Cancer Institute Prevention and Cessation of Cigarette Smoking: Control of Tobacco Use

National Cancer Institute’s overview of Prevention and steps for how to get into a cessation program.

National Cancer Institute: Lung cancer

The National Cancer Institute’s page on lung cancer, providing the definition, estimated cases and deaths and resources for research and funding.