What is included in emergency treatment for non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Updated: Jul 15, 2021
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
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Answer

All patients thought to have lung cancer should be encouraged to obtain follow-up care with their primary care physician. In almost all cases, document the possible diagnosis and discuss it with the patient. Definitive treatment of the underlying cancer is not the purview of the emergency department (ED).

Emergency treatment is based on symptoms. In cases of upper airway obstruction, admit the patient to the intensive care unit (ICU), prepare for intubation and/or cricothyrotomy, and obtain otolaryngologic and/or surgical consultation for fiberoptic laryngoscopy or intraoperative tracheostomy.

If hemoptysis is noted, administer supplemental oxygen and perform suctioning. If a threat of imminent demise exists, consider placing a double-lumen endotracheal tube. Position the patient with the bleeding hemithorax in a dependent position. Perform arterial blood gas (ABG) and complete blood count (CBC) (type and crossmatching) coagulation studies if the bleeding is more than trivial. A pulmonologist may have to perform fiberoptic bronchoscopy. Admit patients, except those with the most minor bleeding, to the ICU.


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