New therapies are giving lung cancer patients more hope than ever.

Dr. Brian Haney with Bob Balling, lung cancer patient, at our Topsham office

Dr. Brian Haney with Bob Balling, lung cancer patient, at our Topsham office

While lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women, recent advances in clinical research have led to better tolerated and more effective options for treatment. Innovative therapies that harness the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, as well as those that target specific mutations in the cancer’s DNA, are helping to cure more people and significantly prolong survival with a better quality of life.

Lung cancer affects both men and women of all racial and ethnic groups. It is more common in those who have smoked, but can affect people who have never used tobacco. Whenever possible, lung cancer is treated with surgical resection and/or radiation therapy in an effort to cure the cancer if it is caught early enough. Cure rates are highest when lung cancer is detected early. Those at increased risk should undergo screening with a low-dose CT scan. It could save your life. (See sidebar at right)

While chemotherapy remains a very effective tool to treat lung cancer, some patients can be treated with immunotherapy alone or with an oral pill that can target the cancer.

How NECS is fighting back against lung cancer

NECS has an active research program that is always working to offer the most advanced clinical trials available, right here in our offices in Maine. As a member of the Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative, the doctors at NECS are in constant contact with the lung cancer experts at Dana-Farber. We regularly present cases as part of interactive conferences, and have the ability to expedite referrals when needed. 

We have achieved and maintained the rigorous standards of the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) Certification Program through The American Society of Clinical Oncology demonstrating our commitment to top level quality care.  

The unique mutations found in a patient’s tumor biopsy are discussed at a monthly “molecular tumor conference” that keeps us on the leading edge of matching the latest treatments, and locating clinical trials specifically tailored to that patient’s tumor.

The best weapons against lung cancer: don't smoke, and get screened if you are at increased risk.

Not smoking is the #1 way to lower your risk of lung cancer.

Smoking is responsible for 80-90% of lung cancer cases. Quitting—or never starting—is the most important thing you can do to lower your risk. You should also avoid secondhand smoke.

For help quitting smoking, call the Maine Tobacco HelpLine, 1-800-207-1230, or visit

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. One in three homes in Maine has high levels of radon, and the only way to detect it is through testing. Click here for more information.

Early detection could save your life

There is now a screening test for lung cancer: Low-dose Computed Tomography, or LDCT, which is painless and only takes a few minutes. 

It should be offered to adults who meet all three of the following criteria:

  • Aged 55 to 80, AND 
  • Have a smoking history of 30-pack-years (for example, have smoked 1 pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years, or 2 packs a day for 15 years, or 3 packs a day for 10 years, etc.), AND
  • Either smoke currently or have quit within the past 15 years.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requires patients to meet with their health care provider for counseling before their first lung cancer screening. 

Source: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Roy's Story

Read—and watch—the story of Roy Jenkins, a lung cancer survivor of five years...and counting.

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