Complete care for lung cancer in South Denver

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths, killing more Americans each year than breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers combined. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 224,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. Most lung cancer is not detected until patients are symptomatic and see a doctor. Typically by the time symptoms appear the cancer has spread and is considered late stage.

Why choose Sky Ridge for lung cancer care

  • We have caring, compassionate lung specialists that are here for you
  • We take a multidisciplinary, team approach to care
  • We treat both non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer
  • Lung cancer screening program
  • Premium cancer care from Sarah Cannon Research Institute
  • Most effective technology for early detection
  • Access to lung cancer clinical research trials
  • Cancer registry for lifetime follow up
  • Cancer resource center for support and education
  • Infusion services for chemotherapy treatment
  • On-site radiation therapy services
  • Smoking cessation education
  • Weekly cancer case conference for medical teams
With early detection, survival rates increase from 15 percent to as high as 92 percent so don't be scared. Be screened.

A team approach to lung cancer treatment

Our team at Sky Ridge Medical Center can help to diagnose lung cancer, provide a second opinion, stage your cancer (determine how much it has spread), plan for treatment and offer support. Our lung specialists work with you and your family to develop an individual treatment plan. Key members of your lung cancer care team could include:

  • Medical oncologists: doctors who diagnose cancer and use medicine or chemotherapy to treat cancer; they also help coordinate the overall cancer treatment plan
  • Pulmonologists: doctors who specialize in treating diseases of the lungs
  • Cardiothoracic surgeons: doctors who are specially trained to perform surgical treatments of diseases affecting organs inside the thorax (the chest), usually the heart and the lungs
  • Radiation oncologists: doctors who treat cancer using radiation therapy

Lung cancer nurse navigator

Knowing that a diagnosis of lung cancer frequently involves several providers and procedures and can be overwhelming and scary for patients and their families, Sky Ridge offers the services of an oncology nurse navigator, another important member of your care team.

At Sky Ridge, our lung cancer nurse navigator helps coordinate care through each stage of the treatment process, acts as an advocate for the patient, provides patients with the education and resources they need to make informed decisions about their cancer care and offers compassionate, knowledgeable support when it's needed most.

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the lungs. Lung cancers that start in the lungs are divided into 2 types:

  • Non-small cell —This type generally grows and spreads more slowly. Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for the majority of the lung cancer cases that are diagnosed each year in the United States. The most common types of non-small cell lung cancer are squamous cell cancer and adenocarcinoma.
  • Small cell—This type generally grows more quickly. It is more likely to spread to other parts of the body.

Lung cancer symptoms

Ninety percent of cancers are caused by smoking and tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco. It is possible to get this type of cancer even if you have never smoked since even being exposed to second-hand smoke can be a factor.

Symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic cough
  • Pneumonia
  • Unexplained weight loss or lack of appetite

These symptoms may indicate the presence of other health problems, but see your doctor if you’re think you may be at risk of lung cancer and are experiencing these issues.

Other factors that increase the chance of developing lung cancer include:

  • Being exposed to asbestos or radon
  • Having a lung disease, such as tuberculosis
  • Having a family or personal history of lung cancer
  • Being exposed to certain air pollutants
  • Being exposed to coal dust

Lung cancer screening

Lung cancer screening is key to early detection. If you are a current or former smoker, you may be eligible for lung cancer screening. Lung cancer may not show obvious symptoms in its early stages, making getting a lung cancer screening even more important.

What is the criteria to qualify for a lung cancer screening?

  • Age: 55-77 years old
  • Current smoker or former smoker who has quit within the past 15 years
  • 30 “pack-year” history (a pack year is defined as smoking one pack per day)
  • Asymptomatic
Call (720) 225-CARE to see if you qualify and schedule your exam. Please note that we will need an order for low-dose CT lung screening from your healthcare provider before your exam.

What is a low-dose CT scan?

Low-dose CT lung screening, designed to identify cancer in its early stages, is an easy screening exam that:

  • Takes less than 10 seconds
  • Does not involve any medication
  • Does not involve needles
  • Requires you to be able to hold your breath for about 6 seconds during the chest scan

Coordination and follow-up of your care are important to us. After the scan, a report will be sent to your primary care physician.

Diagram showing the lungs upper, middle, and lower lobes. As well as lymph nodes, bronchi, and bronchioles

What are the benefits of being screened for lung cancer?

The goal of lung screening is to identify cancer at an early, and more treatable stage. Without low-dose CT scans, lung cancer is usually not found until a person develops symptoms. At that time, the cancer is much harder to treat.

Advantages of early diagnosis include:

  • Potential earlier diagnosis of lung cancer allows for earlier treatment
  • Earlier treatment is proven to increase survival rates to as high as 92 percent
  • Less anxiety than “watchful waiting”
  • Undergoing a minimally invasive procedure

Like all tests, there are risks and benefits. It is important to discuss screening with your doctor and healthcare team so you can make an informed choice.

How often should I get screened?

Screening is a program over time, not a single test. An annual scan is recommended for most individuals. You and your doctor will work with a team that may include a nurse navigator or coordinator and other specialists to maximize the benefits of screening and minimize the potential harms.

What if I’m still smoking?

A lung cancer screening, while helpful, is not a substitute for smoking cessation. Even in older, heavier smokers, those who stop smoking before or shortly after starting annual screening have an additional 20% reduction in their risk of dying from lung cancer. It is never too late to stop.

Pricing and scheduling your screening

Your physician must order the screening. Starting this year, Medicare and some private insurance plans cover lung cancer screenings for high-risk individuals with no out-of-pocket costs. If you have questions on whether this is a covered screening under your insurance provider, please contact them for coverage criteria.

Lung cancer diagnostic technology that saves lives

Not only does Sky Ridge provide screenings, we are also the first hospital in the Denver metro area to acquire and use the SPiN Thoracic Navigation System. This system provides doctors with the ability to diagnose small lung lesions in earlier stages of cancer, without the need of going to the hospital multiple times for various diagnostic procedures.

“Early detection of lung cancer is so important. The earlier the diagnosis, the more time and options we have for treatment. Veran’s new technology will help us detect lung cancer earlier, requires fewer hospital visits and will improve our patients’ outcomes.”
Dr. Surit Sharma of Sky Ridge Medical Center

For our physicians to be able to use this technology, detect your cancer earlier and improve your survival rate, you must be screened. So don’t be scared. Be screened.

Quit smoking! Smoking cessation education

Breathing is second nature and most of us breathe about 18 to 20 times a minute without even thinking about it! To stay fit and healthy throughout our lifetime, we need to take care of our lungs. Almost ninety percent of lung cancers are smoking related, so quit smoking today.

Below are resources that can help you quit smoking:

We Support the Quitter in You

The American Lung Association supports the quitter in you, and we’re here for you every step of the way with tools, tips and support. The important thing is to keep trying to quit, until you quit for good.

Freedom From Smoking

Freedom From Smoking® Online, or FFS Online, is a program specifically designed for adults, like you, who want to quit smoking. It’s an adaptation of the American Lung Association’s gold standard, group clinic that has helped thousands of smokers to quit for good.

Baby and Me - Tobacco Free Program

Women enrolled in the program attend four prenatal sessions where they receive information on smoking cessation and take a carbon monoxide breath test. If a woman quits successfully before delivery, she may come monthly to take a breath test and receive $25 worth of diapers every month for up to one year as long as she continues to abstain from smoking.


SmokefreeTXT is a mobile text messaging service designed to provide 24/7 encouragement, advice and tips to help smokers quit smoking and stay quit. To sign up, text QUIT to 47848.

QuitGuide App

QuitGuide is a free app that helps you understand your smoking patterns and build the skills needed to become and stay smoke-free.

You may also call the Colorado QuitLine for additional assistance: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669).

Our Physicians

    About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute

    Sky Ridge Medical Center is part of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare. Our family of hospitals provides comprehensive cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for people facing cancer in our communities. From diagnosis, to treatment and survivorship care, our oncology expertise ensures you have access to locally-trusted care with the support of a globally-recognized network.

    askSARAH helpline

    Have cancer questions? We can help. askSARAH is a dedicated helpline for your cancer-related questions. Our specially-trained nurses are available 24/7 and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at (303) 253-3225 or chat online at