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Our Thoracic Cancer Program focuses exclusively on cancers of the lung, esophagus and chest cavity

Many patients come to us not because of symptoms, but because a test for something else (a chest X-ray or CT scan) has shown a suspicious spot or abnormality. Not every spot, mass or nodule turns out to be lung cancer, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible. If it is cancer, early treatment can lead to better outcomes.

Risk Factors

Many factors affect whether a person may develop lung cancer, including:

  • Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Exposure to substances such as radon gas, asbestos and other carcinogens
  • Family history

If you think you might be at a higher risk for developing lung cancer, talk to your doctor about what you can do. To learn more about risk factors for lung cancer, visit

Warning Signs

Because many people with lung cancer do not have symptoms until the cancer has spread, it is important to be aware of symptoms that might indicate a problem. These symptoms are not always caused by cancer, but it’s essential to discuss any possible problems with your doctor. Some common warning signs for lung cancer include:

  • A new cough, a cough that does not go away or one that gets worse over time
  • Dull, aching, persistent chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Recurring lung infections (bronchitis, pneumonia, etc.)
  • Wheezing or hoarseness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

For more information on lung cancer warning signs and symptoms, visit:

Types of Lung Cancer

Suspected lung cancer generally takes the form of a mass, nodule, spot or lesion in the lung. It can also appear as infiltrates, which look like pneumonia, but do not resolve with antibiotics — or other abnormal findings in the lung that don’t resolve on their own. These abnormalities can appear in different locations.

  • Non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
  • Mesothelioma: Cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs or abdomen, caused by inhalation of asbestos or radon.
  • Mediastinal tumors: Rare cancers that develop in the chest cavity in the area between the lungs.
  • Esophageal cancer: More than 15,000 new cases of cancer of the esophagus are diagnosed in the U.S. every year.

Comprehensive Expertise for Treatment of Thoracic Cancers

As an academic medical center, Froedtert & MCW staff are always researching and carefully evaluating new treatment approaches, putting us at the forefront of the latest techniques, therapies and options.

We are different, because we combine a multidisciplinary approach, cutting edge expertise and comprehensive care to give you the best chance of survival. In weekly tumor board meetings, team members collaborate to provide you with the most effective treatment plan. You receive the expert advice of many specialists, often without having to see each one individually. 

When caught early, lung cancer is curable. Even if a lung cancer is not curable, it is still treatable. Treatments include:

Treatment can often extend life, but also decreases some of the symptoms caused by lung cancer.

Second Opinion for Lung Cancer

A lung cancer second opinion can provide you with the reassurance that a lung cancer diagnosis is accurate and that you know all of the treatments options available to you. Learn more about our Cancer Second Opinion Program.

Patient Resources

Thoracic cancers are challenging diseases. Learn about what questions you can ask to help prepare for your appointment:


Virtual Visits Are Available

Safe and convenient virtual visits by video let you get the care you need via a mobile device, tablet or computer wherever you are. We’ll gather your medical records for you and get our experts’ input so we can offer treatment options without an in-person visit. To schedule a virtual visit, call 1-866-680-0505.

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Cancer and the COVID-19 Vaccine

There is currently no data that suggests current or former cancer patients should avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Cancer can weaken your immune system, so we recommend that most patients get the vaccine as soon as possible. 

Recognized as High Performing by U.S. News & World Report

Froedtert Hospital and Froedtert Menomonee Falls Hospital are recognized by U.S. News & World Report as high performing in pulmonology and lung surgery. Froedtert Hospital is also recognized as high performing for lung cancer surgery.