Although lung and thoracic cancers are serious, early detection and timely treatment are key to beating or living with these diseases. Because every day counts, we help you review and understand your options quickly. Our compassionate care team provides in-depth expertise, and your care team will be with you every step of the way so you can begin treatment within days after cancer is detected.
You can trust us for education and advanced options for screening and detection, especially if you have a risk factor such as smoking. We’re also here for you with next steps after a cancer diagnosis.
Lung and thoracic cancer detection and diagnosis
Cancers of the thoracic (chest) region, include lung, esophageal, thymus and mesothelioma, with lung cancer being the most common. In the early stages, these cancers may not exhibit any symptoms. Because these diseases are challenging to treat, it’s important to visit your doctor for regular exams as part of your preventive healthcare and to share any concerns, no matter how small they seem. This is especially true if you have a history of smoking or other high-risk health or family history.
Your doctor will refer you to our advanced imaging services and may order additional tests to help with a diagnosis, such as an endoscopy procedure or a biopsy. A pathologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing disease, will look at your cell samples to identify the presence of cancer and determine the type of cancer you have.
Innovative techniques and technologies
Our accredited cancer program offers several types of pulmonary techniques and technologies designed to support your care needs. You will need to call your local hospital to learn which of the below options are available in your area. Some options could include:
- Minimally invasive surgical technology – A surgical technique that uses smaller and more precise surgical incisions instead of one large opening. By reducing the trauma to the body, patients typically have quicker recovery times and less discomfort.
- Radiation oncology targeting - Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), also known as stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR), can be used to treat tumors in almost any part of the body, including the lungs.
- Respiratory gating – This technology allows for continuous monitoring of tumor movement (for example, during breathing) so radiation treatment can be delivered at exactly the right moment. When the tumor moves outside of the target field, the radiation beam automatically turns off.
Freedom from smoking
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer and is linked in the U.S. to about 90 percent of lung cancers. We work with patients and families to provide smoking cessation resources and support programs to sustain positive outcomes, not only for lung cancer survivors, but for everyone.
Learn more about smoking cessation classes and support near you.
How We Treat Lung And Thoracic Cancers
Your case is unique, which means your treatment plan will be designed around your needs. Every week, a team of specialists meets to discuss cancer cases and collaborate on the best treatment for each patient. You benefit from the combined expertise of specialists in radiology, surgery, pathology, pharmacology and oncology and therapists in fields like physical therapy and psychology.
Your recommended treatment will be based on best practices that have worked for other patients, specific aspects of your cancer/tumor, the results of all your tests, the stage of your cancer and your personal preferences.
Treatment of lung cancer depends on the type of cancer – either small cell or non-small cell. Infusion chemotherapy is the primary treatment for small cell cancer because it tends to grow and spread quickly. Surgery (segmentectomy, lobectomy or pneumonectomy) to remove the tumor is often the preferred treatment method for non-small cell lung cancer.
Surgery is the most common way to treat lung cancer. In a segmentectomy, or wedge resection, only the tumor is removed, and the rest of the lung is left intact. In a lobectomy, one of the two lobes in the lung is removed. In a pneumonectomy, the entire lung is removed. Your doctor may also do surgery to see if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under your arm, which may require other types of treatment after surgery.
This type of therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. This treatment can be used to shrink a tumor before surgery. Or it may be used after surgery to kill cancer cells that may remain in the chest, area.
Chemotherapy and infusion
This treatment uses powerful medicines to kill cancer cells all through the body. It may be used to shrink a tumor before surgery or to kill any cancer cells that remain after other, focused treatments. Often two to three chemotherapy medications are given together to treat lung cancer. Your doctor will determine the best combination of medications to control the growth of your lung cancer.
Targeted therapy is the use of medicines that target the parts of cancer cells that make them unlike normal cells. They do this without affecting most normal, healthy cells. The drugs are different from standard chemotherapy medicines and may work when chemotherapy medicines don’t, often with less severe side effects.
Depending on your cancer and overall health history, you may the option of participating in clinical trials as part of your cancer care. Clinical trials are the final stage of research programs that develop new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. They determine whether new treatments are safe and effective and work better than current available treatments. Most of the treatments used today are the results of past clinical trials.
Care and Support
Your care team
Our cancer care teams know that great care is the result of seamless communication between you, your family and your existing healthcare providers. When you have this kind of collaboration, you can expect a more efficient, effective and tailored approach to meeting your individual needs.
Lung cancer nurse navigators
One of your key team members is your nurse navigator, who serves as a patient educator and care guide focused on improving your cancer treatment experience. Your nurse navigator will assist you at every stage, help you understand your diagnosis and treatment options and coordinate care between your physician, surgeon and other support teams.
Life beyond lung cancer
With better detection methods and treatment options, more patients are surviving cancer than ever before. Our survivorship program gives you access to specialists who partner with you for your post-treatment. This program focuses on nutritional goals, healthy living and emotional well-being. We’ll also help you set up regular medical checkups with your primary doctor to prevent, detect and manage any complications related to your cancer or cancer treatment. Because you may be at higher risk for second cancers, screening and surveillance are essential to your long-term health.