Lung Cancer

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Duke’s lung cancer program is nationally recognized for its innovative, multi-disciplinary, and personalized approach to detecting and treating all types and stages of lung cancer. Whether you are newly diagnosed or seeking a second opinion, we offer you the best treatment options and outstanding care. Our goal is to improve outcomes, survival rates, and 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 reduce 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 advanced imaging techniques to pinpoint the precise location of the tumor, focus radiation directly on the target, and preserve healthy tissue.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

This nonsurgical procedure treats small tumors by delivering high doses of radiation to precisely targeted areas while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Stereotactic radiosurgery relies on 3D imaging to locate the tumor and 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.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies -- in most cases, these are well-tolerated medicines taken by mouth -- may be included in your treatment plan during any stage of lung cancer. Whenever possible, we study the molecular profile (DNA) of your cancer to personalize your treatment.


Immunotherapy takes advantage of your own immune system to help kill cancer cells across all stages of lung cancer. The Duke Center for Cancer Immunotherapy make these and other advances in cancer treatment available to you. 


Chemotherapy uses medication to kill cancer cells directly. These treatments can supplement surgery, radiation, or immunotherapy when needed. 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, for example, chemotherapy that targets specific tumor cells.

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.

Radiofrequency Ablation

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 people who are unable to have surgery or undergo radiation.

Our Locations

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


We conduct comprehensive imaging tests and molecular studies of your tumor. These tests play an important role in detecting and diagnosing lung cancer and in developing the best treatment plan. 

Lung Cancer Screening

We offer low-dose CT screening to individuals at high risk for developing lung cancer. The 3D 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-rays.

Find out if you could qualify for lung cancer screening.


Chest X-rays and 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.


A small sample of the tumor or fluid in the lungs is tested to confirm a lung cancer diagnosis and may also be used for molecular testing.

Why Choose Duke

The Duke Cancer Institute
The Duke Cancer Institute brings together the extensive resources of Duke University, Duke Health, and the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. We are committed to making innovative discoveries, developing new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer, and delivering those therapies in a patient- and family-centric way.

Advancing Lung Cancer Care in the U.S.
As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Duke Cancer Institute helped pioneer minimally invasive surgery techniques. We are also a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving patient care, and the the National Cancer Trials Network, which coordinates national clinical trials.

Decades of Duke Research Inform Your Treatment
Using a large tissue bank and database of patients treated for lung cancer at Duke since 1995, our medical oncologists study why some lung cancer patients respond to treatments differently than others. This information can help us better treat your specific type of cancer and minimize your symptoms. We have also developed several FDA-approved drugs that help improve outcomes.

If Lung Cancer Spreads to Brain or Spine
We offer new treatments that make it possible for people to live longer with a better quality of life when cancer has spread to the brain or spine. Our experts in the medical, surgical, and radiological management of metastatic brain and spine tumors use advanced therapies, which may not be available at other centers, to extend life for our people with metastatic brain and spine cancer.

Access to Clinical Trials
Every day, our researchers conduct 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 are designed to increase your treatment options and enhance your care.

Best Cancer Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.

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

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 minimizing the side effects of treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological side effects of diagnosis and treatment.

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

This page was medically reviewed on 11/17/2023 by