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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago


Lung cancer is a disease that begins in the lungs. The lungs are sponge-like organs in the chest that take in oxygen when you inhale and release carbon dioxide when you exhale. When lungs work properly, oxygen is processed in the lungs and sent to the rest of the body through the blood. That oxygen is vital to functioning and survival. Carbon dioxide, a waste product of our cells, is released from the body upon exhalation. Exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen is another critically important function of the lungs.

Know Your Lung Cancer Risk

Take our health risk assessment and view your score today!

Lung cancer develops when a cell in the lung becomes abnormal and begins to duplicate itself. When abnormal cells duplicate, they will eventually form a mass of cells, known as a tumor. The tumor cells can invade locally through the lung tissue and into adjoining structures like the ribs. Tumor cells can also travel through lymph vessels or the bloodstream to other parts of the body. When cancer cells spread from their original location to another part of the body, it is considered metastasis. Lung cancer typically spreads (metastasizes) through the blood and lymph nodes.

Guide to Lung Cancer Screening

The National Lung Cancer Screening Trial is the first scientific study providing clear evidence that the low-dose helical computed tomography (CT) scan is an effective screening technique and significantly reduces death due to lung cancer in heavy smokers. Read more about this groundbreaking study.


Contact Us

If you are concerned about lung cancer or other lung diseases, please contact your physician to discuss ways to reduce your risk and whether or not you should be screened for cancer. If you do not have a physician, you may request a first time appointment with a member of our thoracic oncology team by calling 312-695-3800 or call our Physician Referral Service at 1-877-926-4664. You may also request a first time appointment online.

Last UpdateDecember 17, 2013


To make an appointment with a physician, please call 1-877-926-4664.

New patients can request an appointment online.