Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer

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Duke’s lung cancer program is nationally recognized for its innovative, aggressive, and personalized approach to detecting and treating all types and stages of lung cancer. Whether you are newly diagnosed or seeking a second opinion, our goal is to offer you more treatment options, better care, and improved quality of life.

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Our skilled surgeons focus exclusively on lung cancer. They have extensive experience in minimally invasive techniques, which can minimize pain, shorten hospital stays, and speed recovery. Our surgeons are also nationally recognized for offering more options to patients with late-stage lung cancer. We perform more than 1,600 minimally invasive surgeries a year and offer clinical trials to test new therapies and techniques.​

Radiation Therapy

Our team uses imaging tools, including MRI and CT scans, to view the precise location of the tumor and focus the radiation directly on the target while preserving healthy lung tissue.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

A nonsurgical procedure that treats small tumors by delivering high doses of radiation to precisely targeted areas, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Stereotactic radiosurgery relies on 3-D imaging to locate the tumor and precisely define its size and shape. More than 400 of these complex procedures are performed at Duke each year. We use this advanced technology to treat people with tumors that may be hard to reach through surgery and who may be turned down for treatment at other centers.


Medications that kill cancer cells or stop them from growing are used to treat many types of lung cancer. We consider your specific type of tumor and assess the risks versus benefits before recommending chemotherapy as part of your personalized treatment plan. We also offer access to clinical trials that are testing new types of chemotherapy.


A relatively new treatment option, immunotherapy takes advantage of a person's own immune system to help kill cancer cells. There are several FDA-approved options that can be delivered via oral medications or IV infusion. Depending on each person's cancer type and stage, treatment history, and overall health, immunotherapy may be prescribed alone or in combination with another type of therapy, such as chemotherapy.

Targeted Therapy

Another newer form of treatment, targeted therapy can help stop or slow the growth or spread of cancer by targeting specific aspects of your tumor's biology. Targeted therapies may be delivered in pill form or through onsite IV infusion.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

A light-activated drug absorbs cancer cells. Surgeons then shine a laser on the tumor to “turn on” the drug, which kills the cancer cells. Because PDT has minimal side effects, it can be used as often as needed (unlike chemotherapy and radiation treatments). We were among the first in the U.S. to use PDT successfully to treat early-stage lung cancer; we have since trained colleagues around the country in the technique.

Cryosurgery (Cryotherapy)

Liquid nitrogen freezes and kills abnormal or cancerous cells. Cryosurgery is a minimally invasive procedure and may be used to treat non-small cell lung cancer.

Ablative Therapies

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), microwave ablation, and cryoablation are minimally invasive image-guided techniques that use extreme heat or cold to kill lung cancer cells. Ablation therapy is typically reserved for patients who are unable to have surgery or undergo radiation.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


We conduct more comprehensive imaging tests than most medical centers in the region. These tests play an important role in detecting and diagnosing lung cancer and in developing the best treatment plan. You may be able to see your doctors and undergo these tests on the same day.

Lung Cancer Screening

We offer low-dose CT screening to individuals at high risk for developing lung cancer. The 3-D images are read by board-certified lung imaging specialists who look for early-stage lung cancers that may be too small to be detected by a traditional chest X-ray.

X-Ray, CT, MRI

Chest X-rays, CT, MRI, and PET scans help detect and diagnose your type of lung cancer tumor. They are interpreted by radiologists with special training in thoracic and pulmonary conditions, including lung cancer.


Removal of a small sample of the tumor or fluid in the lungs to confirm a lung cancer diagnosis.

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Why Choose Duke

Advancing Lung Cancer Care in the U.S.
As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we helped pioneer minimally invasive surgery techniques. We are also part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving patient care.

Decades of Duke Research Inform Your Treatment
Our doctors use a large tissue bank and database of patients treated for lung cancer at Duke since 1995. We study why some lung cancer patients respond to treatments better than others in order to reduce your symptoms and treat your cancer. Our medical oncologists have developed several drugs that have received FDA approval. These drugs help improve patient outcomes.

When Lung Cancer Spreads to Brain or Spine
New treatments are making it possible for people to live longer, with a better quality of life, when cancer has spread to the brain or spine. Duke experts in the medical and surgical management of metastatic brain and spine tumors use these advanced therapies to extend life for people who may have been told they are out of options.

Access to Clinical Trials
Every day, our researchers are conducting approved clinical trials to develop new treatment options and give more insights into curing lung cancer and improving our patients’ quality of life. You may be eligible to participate in our clinical trials, which help advance treatment guidelines and enhance your care.

Duke University Hospital is nationally ranked in 10 adult specialties
Among the Best Cancer Hospitals in U.S.
Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital's cancer program is ranked among the nation's best by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

A Team of Specialists
Our oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, nutritionists, counselors, pharmacists and nurses meet to discuss each individual case and work together to develop a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan.

Help Through Your Patient Journey
You are assigned a nurse navigator who will be with you at every clinical appointment and help to maintain open communication throughout your treatment.

Support for You and Your Loved Ones
We know that treating cancer means treating the whole person -- body and mind -- not just the disease. Our comprehensive support services range from helping to minimize the side effects of treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment.

Our Doctors Work with Your Doctors
If you seek care at Duke and continue your radiation or chemotherapy closer to home, our doctors will coordinate your treatment plan with your doctors. We also provide second opinions and share information with your doctors close to home.