NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Lung Cancer - Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

13 NCCN Guidelines for Patients ® : Lung Cancer – Non-Small Cell, 2018 2 Assessing lung nodules Team work | Your cancer risk Many people have small masses of tissue in their lungs. These small masses are called nodules. A nodule may have been found in your lung by chance. Part 2 discusses how doctors decide if this nodule is likely cancer. Team work Nodules can be caused by cancer, infections, scar tissue, and other conditions. Most nodules are not cancer. It takes a team of experts to decide if a nodule is cancer. Team members Your treatment team should include a pulmonologist, thoracic radiologist, and thoracic surgeon. A pulmonologist is a doctor who’s an expert of lung diseases. A thoracic radiologist is a doctor who’s an expert of imaging tests of the chest. A thoracic surgeon is a doctor who’s an expert in operations within the chest. Methods Your team will assess if a lung nodule is cancer by three or four methods. One method is to assess your risk for lung cancer. Another method is to review test results for signs of cancer. A third method is to repeat tests to see if there are changes that suggest cancer is present. When doctors suspect cancer, a fourth method is used. Tissue is removed from your body and tested to confirm if cancer is present. Your cancer risk Guide 1 lists the risk factors that doctors use to assess if a nodule may be cancer. A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of lung cancer. Risk factors can be activities that people do, things in the environment, or personal data like age and health. If one or more risk factors applies to you, it doesn’t mean you have lung cancer. Likewise, lung cancer occurs in some people who have no known risk factors. Tobacco smoke Smoking tobacco is the biggest risk factor for lung cancer. There are more than 50 compounds in tobacco smoke known to cause cancer. Any smoking increases your risk for lung cancer. However, the more you smoke, the higher your risk. If you quit smoking, your risk will decrease. However, the risk for lung cancer is higher for former smokers than for people who never smoked. Thus, current or past tobacco smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer. Guide 1. Risk factors for lung cancer You are more likely to get lung cancer if you: • Smoke or have smoked • Have had major exposure to second-hand smoke • Are older in age • Have had certain other cancers • Have a parent, sibling, or child who has had lung cancer • Have had exposure to cancer-causing agents • Have had certain other lung diseases