Lung Cancer Treatment Options
Mount Sinai physicians are skilled in providing the full range of lung cancer treatments, which include non-surgical options such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, as well as advanced surgical procedures that use specialized techniques to remove malignancies successfully. Individualized treatment for lung cancer and other thoracic cancers include a broad range of standard, and state of the art treatments including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy minimally invasive interventions that are preferred whenever possible.
Lung cancer is a complex disease, and we treat it with an extensive team of doctors including a pulmonologist, oncologic thoracic surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist. Close collaboration of your doctors is required to ensure the best treatment. In addition, we offer a full range of supportive services: pain management, integrative medicine, reiki, yoga, acupuncture, social work, nutrition, and psychological support.
Specialists in thoracic surgery, pulmonary medicine, and medical and radiation oncology collaborate to develop an individualized treatment plan for each lung cancer patient.
Early-stage lung cancer is treated most effectively with surgery to remove it. Mount Sinai Health System is renowned for its advancements in minimally invasive surgical procedures that allow for faster recovery times, less scarring, and less pain than open surgery. In addition, our thoracic surgery services offer innovative therapies like laser therapy stenting and radiofrequency ablation. Our expert surgeons offer the most advanced, least invasive procedures for removing lung cancer, including:
Minimally invasive lung surgery: Our surgeons remove the malignant area by performing an anatomic resection of lung called a lobectomy. In addition, they sample and remove the adjacent lymph nodes, giving them the most accurate means of identifying whether or not the cancer spread outside the lung.
Video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy (VATS): These leading-edge procedures include the minimally invasive procedure, video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy (VATS). Making only three small incisions and using a specially designed camera and instruments, the surgeon can perform the entire operation from outside the chest. VATS surgery delivers the same surgical benefit by removing the tumor with less pain and a faster recovery than the traditional open approach. In contrast to the open procedure, there is no rib spreading or need to fracture the rib to perform the operation. In some circumstances, VATS can be used for a segmentectomy, or wedge resection—two smaller resections that can also remove the cancer.
In many patients, the team of physicians may decide that your cancer is best treated with radiation therapy, either by itself, or as part of a combined treatment plan by our physicians specializing in the treatment of lung cancer in a variety of disciplines.
Innovative radiation oncology: Mount Sinai specialists are pioneering the development of innovative methods for the delivery of precise doses of radiation to lung tumors during certain points in the respiration cycle. These methods allow our team of physicians to increase the radiation dose safely, to shorten treatment, and spare healthy tissue. Radiation therapy is the use of high powered X-rays to kill cancer cells. Our Department of Radiation Oncology expert radiologists may incorporate positron emission tomography (PET) scans to differentiate more precisely the areas of cancer which must be treated, offering the most innovative procedures for treating lung cancer, including:
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy: Mount Sinai has an active program in stereotactic body radiation therapy that delivers high doses of radiation to the lung tumor. The physician and therapist review scans taken just before treatment to deliver the radiation dose accurately. Recent studies from across the world have shown that this technique can control over 90 percent of cancers treated.
- Internal radiation therapy (Brachytherapy): In certain cases, radioactive material is placed directly into or near the tumor. This internal radiation, or brachytherapy, places the radioactive material directly into the body, targeting the tumor while sparing the nearby normal organs to from most of the radiation exposure.
- Modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): We treat most patients with intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), a highly advanced form of treatment, which delivers high doses of radiation precisely to the tumor while avoiding critical structures such as the lung and the esophagus.
- Radiofrequency ablation: This technology permits patients who are not surgical candidates to undergo tumor removal using an X-ray guided electrode to deliver eat to tissues
Innovative medical oncology: Mount Sinai Health System is consistently at the forefront of using and developing increasingly effective chemotherapies. Through a combination of our research clinical specialization, and personal compassion, our thoracic medical oncology specialists excel in delivering the most comprehensive and successful chemotherapy treatments. Chemotherapy after surgery can significantly improve survival in cases of non-small cell lung cancer when cancer cells from lungs often spread to other parts of body and cannot be removed surgically.
We are developing new medical therapies for cancer that are less toxic, causing fewer side effects while being more effective than existing medications. Our goal is to ensure that we are offering our patients the latest treatments current science has to offer. We focus on understanding the disease and discovering new ways to combat it by:
- Researching immunological treatments such as vaccines
- Keeping abreast of the emerging therapies being developed by others
- Studying the biology of lung cancer itself
We now have a new class of medications, molecular targeted therapy, which works by blocking the signals that make cancer cells grow and spread. This new generation of medications includes anti-angiogenic agents such as:
- Bevacizumab (Avastin). Avastin is given in combination with chemotherapy, and has improved survival in patients with advanced lung cancer.
- Oral inhibitors of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Oral inhibitors include gefitinib (Iressa), and erlotinib (Tarceva).