Newer Options in Lung Cancer Treatment
Clinical research is used to test new and potentially better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat lung cancer. As an academic medical center, conducting and participating in clinical trials is a major part of our mission. Our physicians and medical staff are dedicated to identifying and exploring new treatments. In fact, many of our doctors are leaders in shaping and conducting national research studies that help change the way lung cancer is treated. Some newer treatment options include:
Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) VATS provides a minimally invasive approach to lung cancer surgery, and it is the highly preferred first choice at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin. Unlike traditional open chest surgery that involves a large incision, VATS technology enables surgeons to view and operate on the lungs through a few small incisions. The benefits to the patient are faster recovery and less post-operative pain. Our thoracic surgeons use VATS for the full range of lung procedures, including those to diagnose and remove tumors. Surgical procedures that can be performed with VATS include:
- Wedge resection: removal of a triangle shaped section of a lung, including the suspicious spot or mass and some normal tissue around it. A wedge resection is most effective for a single nodule located in one spot.
- Segmental resection: removal of a section of the lung with the tumor and normal tissue around it.
- Pleurodesis: fluid drainage and procedures to prevent fluid buildup.
- Lobectomy: removal of an entire lobe of the lung. A lobectomy is most effective for spots located in just one lobe.
- Pneumonectomy: removal of the entire lung. This procedure may be done using the traditional, open method or a combination of the open and VATS procedures.
Robotic SurgerySome thoracic cancer patients are eligible for robotic surgery using the da Vinci® Surgical System. The da Vinci system is a surgeon-controlled, minimally invasive instrument with additional capabilities for manipulating and viewing tissue. While not appropriate for every situation, robotic surgery can be the best choice in certain cases.
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)Stereotactic radiosurgery is a precise, non-invasive procedure that involves targeting beams of radiation at a specific area of a tumor to shrink or destroy cancerous cells. Because no incision is required, radiosurgery avoids complications and recovery times associated with surgery. The Department of Radiation Oncology is participating in several clinical studies evaluating SBRT. In order to participate in these studies, the department is credentialed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsored Advance Technology Consortium (ATC) for SBRT.
Drug TherapyDrugs used to treat cancer are often referred to as chemotherapy. There are numerous types of chemotherapy and newer, modern chemotherapies are always being discovered and tested.
Radiofrequency AblationA minimally invasive needle electrode “superheats” the tumor with a high-frequency current.
CryoablationA special probe is guided into a tumor, then super-cooled to freeze and kill the cancer cells.
Second or Third OpinionsSecond opinions are vital with a complicated disease like lung cancer. The more a patient knows and understands about his or her disease and treatment options, the better. We are happy to offer a second opinion to confirm that the original diagnosis and staging are accurate and complete. We can also share information about treatment options that might not be available elsewhere. We believe knowledge is power for our patients.
With that in mind, information about lung cancer abounds on the Internet. It can be helpful, but it can also be inaccurate or misleading. Web resources should be viewed cautiously and reviewed with an experienced healthcare team. Each patient’s case is different and applying generalized medical information to any one case can be difficult without the help of trained medical professionals. Also, the lung cancer staging system changed subtly in January 2010, so some Internet resources may be inaccurate.
Last Review Date: Dec. 17, 2010
Online Editor(s): Kathryn Adam