If you are facing lung cancer, you have us to help. A specialized oncologist, surgeon, social worker and an entire care team will work together to create a treatment plan specific to you. This means that you will not only receive the best possible care available today, but also be prepared for future treatments if needed. From diagnosis through post-treatment follow-up, you have us right by your side.

What Is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer affects the cells and structures that make up your lungs. In the United States, lung cancer causes the largest number of cancer deaths. If left untreated in the right or left lung, the cancerous cells can spread to the lymph nodes in the center of your chest or your lower neck, or distant organs such as the brain or liver. Tumors in the lung make it difficult for you to perform normal functions, like breathing in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide.


The best way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking (or never start). Simple, but not easy. Helpful resources exist for both the emotional and physical aspects of nicotine addiction. Your doctor can recommend programs, nicotine replacement therapy or prescription medications.

  • The South Dakota Quitline offers free coaching and free cessation medication at 1-866-SD-QUITS (1-866-737-8487).
  • Avera Corporate Health Services offers smoking cessation support groups and health coaching. To learn more, call 605-322-3875.

Risk Factors

Besides your family medical history, the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis can rise due to other outside forces. These known risk factors include:

  • Currently smoking or vaping
  • Being a former heavy smoker or vaper
  • Secondhand smoke or radiation exposure
  • Not being physically active
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity

A genetic counselor can work with you to provide guidance on your personal risk factors.

Manage My Risk Request Genetic Counseling

Signs & Symptoms

Noteworthy signs and symptoms of cancer in lung tissue may display as:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chronic coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue

Screening for Lung Cancer

If you have a history of smoking, a low-dose CT scan detects lung nodules with early indicators of cancer. This screening offers the best chance of finding it in its earliest and most curable stages.

  • Simple, 15-second screening administered by a quick pass across your chest.
  • Reduces risk by 20% of lung cancer-related death.
  • Recommended for anyone ages 50-77 who has at least a 20-pack-year smoking history, currently smokes or has quit within the last 15 years.

See Other Screenings

Treatment Options at Avera Cancer Institute

With early detection and expert oncology treatment, there’s hope. After a lung cancer diagnosis is determined, there are a variety of treatments based on your specific diagnosis. Turn to Avera Cancer Institute. Our board-certified oncologists have the specialty training needed to provide personalized cancer care. Cancer care teams partner with Avera's respiratory services to provide integrated care, ensuring every need is met for our patients.

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