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Our highly skilled lung cancer doctors are experts at finding the best path forward for you.

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Dr. Nichole Tanner sits in front of a computer showing a lung scan

Lung & Thoracic Cancer

With the latest diagnostic tools and innovative treatments at the ready, the Lung and Thoracic Cancer Care Team at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center will talk to you about your options and collaborate to design the best possible treatment plan for you. The experts on our team specialize in identifying and treating a variety of lung and thoracic cancers:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer (85% of lung cancer diagnoses).
  • Small cell lung cancer.
  • Thymus cancer, which forms in the thymus gland, where T-cells mature.
  • Esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus.
  • Chest wall and mediastinal tumors.
  • Pleural cancers like mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that affects the tissues lining your chest.

Our multidisciplinary team includes pulmonologists, oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and researchers. Our experts don’t stop at providing top-notch care — they’re also working tirelessly to discover the next cutting-edge treatments. A novel combination immunotherapy treatment developed at Hollings for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has continued to grow after initial treatment is now being tested through a nationwide clinical trial. And Hollings is expanding access to lung cancer screenings for veterans and medically underrepresented groups so that potential lung cancers can be diagnosed and treated earlier.

We’re Here For You

At Hollings, we know a cancer diagnosis can be a life changing event. We are here to support you through your journey. Call 843-792-9300 and make an appointment. Experience what sets us apart.

graphic that says Hollings Cancer Center is rated by U.S. News & World Report as a high performing hospital for lung cancer surgery in 2022-23

In good hands

You know you're in good hands at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. Here, you have access to the latest innovations in cancer treatment, including clinical trials, advanced surgical techniques, support services and survivorship planning. You can rest easy knowing we hold national rankings for cancer care and take a leadership role in cancer research and prevention.

The Hollings difference

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S. and the most common type of thoracic cancer. Thoracic cancers are any cancers that start in your thorax, more commonly called the chest, from your throat down to the bottom of your ribs.

A full 90% of lung cancers are linked to smoking. The best way to prevent lung cancer is to not smoke, or to quit if you do smoke. We offer you help quitting through our Smoking Cessation Program and the Tobacco Treatment Program. Long-time smokers can benefit from annual screenings, which can catch lung cancer early when it hasn’t spread and is easier to treat. 

Have more questions about lung cancer? Check out these answers to common questions.

Lung cancer symptoms

Lung and thoracic cancers often have no early signs or symptoms and can be hard to diagnose before they reach an advanced stage. Although symptoms of lung and thoracic cancer vary, depending on the type and location, possible signs can include a cough that won’t go away or gets worse, coughing up rusty-looking or bloody mucus, chest pain that gets worse when you laugh, cough or take a deep breath and shortness of breath or wheezing.

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, please check with your doctor to be sure they do not indicate a lung or thoracic cancer. You can read more details about lung cancer symptoms on our lung cancer common questions page.


Our grandchildren are growing as fast as we can turn around. Another good reason why I quit smoking was to watch them grow up.

Gary Davis, lung cancer survivor

Gary's story
an older woman and man sit together outside their house

What may have been a life-ending diagnosis with our parents or grandparents is not now. We have changed the impossible to possible, and I think MUSC is doing their share of making that happen.

Robert Shields, lung cancer survivor

Robert's story
Robert Shields stands outside

Less than a ten percent survival chance from esophageal cancer and then stage three lung cancer, and I’m still here. The doctors, nurses and staff know what they’re doing, and they are here to help you.

Rick Hunt, esophageal cancer survivor

Rick's story
Rick Hunt sits outside


Lung cancer treatment

Dr. Mariam Alexander

The number of people who survive and thrive after receiving a lung or thoracic cancer diagnosis is steadily rising thanks to greater awareness, fewer people smoking, better early detection, and advances in treatment.

Our Lung and Thoracic Cancer Care Team offers the highest quality, most advanced cancer treatments available today. Our team of specialists and nurse navigators uses state-of-the-art technology and procedures to determine the stage and size of your cancer and whether it has spread to other areas.

Usually, treating lung and thoracic cancer calls for combining several therapies such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy. Your personalized treatment plan is customized to fit the location of your cancer, its stage, and your age and general health. Your treatment options may also include the possibility of receiving a unique, new therapy through one of our lung cancer clinical trials.

Our experts with specialized training in oncology, radiology, and lung and thoracic surgery work together with you to design a comprehensive, customized treatment plan that may include: 

Radiation Therapy

  • Advanced technologies such as hypofractionated treatment allow us to treat certain lung and thoracic cancers with shorter periods of radiation, which is often more convenient and just as effective as older radiation methods.
  • The latest radiation therapies such as TomoTherapy and brachytherapy minimize the impact on healthy tissues.


  • Specially trained surgeons and operating room staff provide the widest range of surgical techniques for every stage and type of lung and thoracic cancer including: Curative Surgery, Preventive Surgery, Diagnostic Surgery, Staging Surgery, Debulking Surgery, Palliative Surgery, Supportive Surgery, and Reconstructive Surgery.
  • Minimally invasive surgery uses laparoscopic or robotic tools and cameras to do complex procedures through small incisions instead of a large incision. These specialized procedures allow our team to:
    o Reduce damage to nearby healthy tissue
    o Reduce pain
    o Reduce infection risk
    o Shorten recovery time
  • Robotic surgery uses our state-of-the-art da Vinci® Surgical System for the highest level of surgical precision that also helps shorten your recovery time.

Medical Management

  • Immunotherapy harnesses your own immune system to fight lung and thoracic tumors. It is often used along with chemotherapy and is given through a vein in your arm or hand.
  • Targeted drug therapy is used to kill cells with cancerous features throughout your body when your cancer has spread to other areas. Targeted drug therapies for lung and thoracic cancer include hormone therapies, signal transduction inhibitors, gene expression modulators, apoptosis inducers, angiogenesis inhibitors, immunotherapies, and toxin delivery molecules.
Dr. John Wrangle

Our team of world-renowned scientists and doctors continuously participate in groundbreaking research and clinical trials to advance what is possible for treating lung and thoracic cancers. Some recent projects include:

In addition, our Lung Transdisciplinary Cancer Team brings together experts from different research areas to collaborate on ongoing lung and thoracic cancer research projects.

As South Carolina’s only NCI-designated cancer center, Hollings offers you clinical trials and treatments that aren’t available anywhere else in the state. These opportunities provide you with access to the latest medications, therapies, and surgical techniques that can improve your outcomes. Learn more about clinical trials at Hollings and see our current lung and thoracic cancer clinical trials.

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Support from start to finish

We pride ourselves on our holistic approach to cancer care. We offer you many resources to help you throughout your cancer journey, including financial counseling, physical therapy, nutrition services, and support groups.

Patient Resources

Lung & Thoracic Cancer Care Locations

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Downtown

86 Jonathan Lucas Street

Charleston, SC 29425

Scheduling: 843-792-9300

Hematology + Oncology Florence

805 Pamplico Highway

Suite: 315

Florence, SC 29505

You will get individual attention from specialists who will complete a thorough review of your cancer and create a personalized treatment plan.

Latest Lung & Thoracic Cancer News