What are small cell and non-small cell lung cancers?

Non-small cell lung cancer makes up most of the diagnoses

lung cancerWhile lung cancer is less common than cancers of the breast or prostate, it is responsible for nearly a third of all cancer deaths in the United States – 27% according to the American Cancer Society. The stigma of lung cancer being a “smoker’s disease” still persists despite the fact that 20% of deaths from lung cancer occur in those who never smoked. The last few years have been very exciting for lung cancer research. New immune and targeted therapies are available to treat this very deadly cancer.

Surprisingly, lung cancer is not one disease. It is classified into three types based upon the type and location of cell involved: small cell, non-small cell and lung carcinoid tumor. Continue reading

New treatments for advanced non-small cell lung cancer

Increasing the chance to live longer

non-small cell lung cancer

The FDA has approved Opdivo® (Nivolumab) and Keytruda® (Pembrolizumab) to treat patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Both medicines stimulate a patient’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with an estimated 224,210 new diagnoses in 2014. The most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer or NSCLC, affects seven out of eight lung cancer patients.

In October 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Opdivo® (Nivolumab) and Keytruda® (Pembrolizumab) to treat patients with advanced, or metastatic, NSCLC. Both medicines stimulate a patient’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells.

At the University of Michigan’s Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer Clinic, we are using both drugs in appropriate patients as standard of care. We also have other similar immunotherapy drugs in a variety of clinical trials.

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Conquering cancer through innovation and collaboration: the year in review

new-year2014 was another year of discovery and innovation at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center as we work toward our goal of conquering cancer. Here are summaries of select clinical, laboratory and population collaborations by Cancer Center members that will benefit cancer patients everywhere:

  • March 25, 2014: 25% of breast cancer survivors report financial decline due to treatment, and the financial impact varied greatly by race. “As oncologists, we are proud of the advances in our ability to cure an increasing proportion of patients diagnosed with breast cancer. But as treatments improve, we must ensure that we do not leave these patients in financial ruin because of our efforts,” says study author Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil. In a second study, Dr. Jagsi found
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Making the case for lung cancer screening

U-M radiologist involved in national effort to gain Medicare coverage for lung cancer CT screening

Ella A. Kazerooni, M.D., director of cardiothoracic radiology at the University of Michigan Health System

Ella A. Kazerooni, M.D., director of cardiothoracic radiology at the University of Michigan Health System

An op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal asks a provocative question: “If you could save thousands of lives, would you do it?”

The article was co-written by Ella A. Kazerooni, M.D., director of cardiothoracic radiology at the University of Michigan Health System. It goes on to urge Medicare to cover lung cancer screening.

The National Lung Screening Trial, a large-scale clinical trial funded by the National Cancer Institute, found that among 53,000 heavy smokers at high risk of lung cancer, CT screening demonstrated a 20% reduction in lung cancer deaths. The results led to the Continue reading

White ribbons create awareness for lung cancer

Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer in the U.S.

lung ribbonIf you ask people what a pink ribbon stands for, they may give you a funny look and wonder how long you have had your head buried in the sand. Who doesn’t know that pink ribbons are used for breast cancer awareness? But I wonder how many people know what a white ribbon stands for, or when was the last time they saw one. The white ribbon can look invisible and be invisible, but this cannot hide the harsh fact it represents the number one cancer killer in the United States – lung cancer.

Lung cancer is an aggressive disease and is most often detected in its later stages when it is difficult or impossible to cure. Its association with cigarette smoking has given lung cancer a stigma that other cancers lack. While most people know that smoking can cause lung cancer, they may not know just how deadly it is. The American Cancer Society estimates at least 80% of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking.

In addition to smoking, other risk factors for lung cancer include: Continue reading

Important news for smokers! Panel backs routine lung cancer screening

Updated December 30, 2013

routine lung cancer screeening

Ella Kazerooni, M.D., M.S.

In a major policy change, government advisers are recommending annual CT scans for certain smokers and former smokers. The recommendations on routine lung cancer screening apply to adults who have no signs or symptoms but who are at high risk for developing the disease because they are current or former smokers.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released its final recommendations late on December 30, 2013. See a public-friendly summary here and the full recommendations here.

“The Task Force recommendation in favor of CT scans for lung cancer screening is a landmark moment in the fight against lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the United States. By screening high risk people with low radiation exposure chest CT scans, death from lung cancer can be significantly reduced, and done so cost effectively. The Task Force recommendation likely will lead Continue reading