The first step in effective treatment of lung cancer malignancies of the chest is to accurately diagnose the disease and determine if and where it has spread outside the lung. At the Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Lung Cancer Clinic, highly skilled physicians utilize the most advanced methods of imaging, biopsy and analysis to determine each patient's condition.
One of the advantages Rush offers patients is the availability of minimally-invasive diagnostic techniques that offer a high degree of accuracy while reducing patient discomfort. These techniques include the following procedures:
- Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), during which a thoracic surgeon obtains tissues samples for testing by using a tiny video camera and surgical instruments inserted through small incisions between the ribs.
- Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS), which uses a small flexible tube fitted with an ultrasound processor and a fine-gauge aspiration needle. After the patient is anesthetized and unconscious, the tube is placed in the patient's mouth and gently threaded down the trachea (windpipe). Guided by the ultrasound images, physicians then use the needle to extract tissue and fluid samples from the lungs and surrounding lymph nodes. These samples are used to determine if the cancer has spread.
The Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Lung Cancer Clinic at Rush University Medical Center provides treatment for malignancies of the chest, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, chest sarcomas, thymomas and lung metasteses. A multidisciplinary team of expert physicians works together to develop and implement an individualized treatment plan for each patient. In each case, the goal is to achieve the most healthful outcome possible while also managing side effects in order to maintain the patient's comfort and quality of life.
Drawing on many years of experience that has made them experts in cancer treatment, the team members devise innovative treatments that incorporate the latest technology and most advanced forms of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other treatment regimens. Patients have the option of participating in clinical trials of promising new treatments. In addition, the team is dedicated to providing patients with the compassionate care for which Rush University Medical Center is known.
Treatment at the Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Lung Cancer Clinic at Rush may include any of the following options:
- Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure during which a thoracic surgeon operates using a tiny video camera and surgical instruments inserted through small incisions between the ribs. VATS is used for many purposes, including biopsy (obtaining tissue samples for testing), removing tumors, or lobectomy (removing lobes of a lung). Compared to open-chest surgery, which requires severing bone and/or cutting through muscle, VATS greatly reduces the risk of infection, post-surgical pain and the amount of time a patient needs to recover.
- The most advanced forms of chemotherapy.
- Specifically designed targeted therapies that prevent the function of molecules tumors need to grow or block the tumor's blood supply.
- Biologic therapies, which help the body's immune system fight cancer and control the side effects of other treatments such as chemotherapy.
- TomoTherapy, a state-of-the-art form of radiation therapy that uses 3-D imaging from computerized tomography (CT) scans to locate a tumor's location precisely and to target radiation beams. Immediately after determining the tumor's position, the TomoTherapy system delivers a steady stream of intensity modulated (low-dose) radiation to the tumor from continually changing angles to the body, concentrating the radiation on the tumor while sparing the healthy tissue surrounding it.
- Other forms of intensity-modulated radiation therapy that deliver multiple beams of radiation directly to the tumor from different directions, focusing the radiation on the tumor while reducing the exposure of surrounding areas. These techniques include three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy, which uses CT or magnetic resonance imaging to visualize a tumor so that the radiation beams can be created to fit the tumor's size and shape.
- 4-D simulation, a state-of-the-art technology that allows a physician to see a tumor moves when a patient breathes. It also identifies the exact location of the tumor, which is important for focusing radiation therapy to achieve maximum effect while avoiding harm to surrounding areas.
- Photodynamic therapy, which uses a light-activated drug that kills cancer cells. The drug, called a photosensitizer, remains in the tumor longer than in the rest of the body. Once the drug has left most of the normal cells, the tumor site is exposed to the light using fiber optic cables inserted inside the body. Photodynamic therapy is used when a typical treatment program is not appropriate and to relieve symptoms in patients with non-small cell lung cancer that obstructs the airways.
- A combination treatment program developed at Rush that incorporates high-dose chemotherapy and radiation on a split schedule, with breaks in treatment between the cycles of chemotherapy - an approach that offers similar results but fewer side effects than continuous treatment.
Rehabilitation specialists at Rush offer a complete program of rehabilitative services to help you recover and restore function that may have been affected by your tumor or treatment. Our program includes both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services.
Cancer Integrative Medicine Program
Through the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program, patients have access to therapies that complement their medical treatments, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, nutritional and herbal counseling, massage and yoga.
A clinical health psychologist is available to help patients manage the emotional and psychological aspects of diagnosis and treatment. The Cancer Integrative Medicine Program also provides counseling for patients and family members so that they can learn coping strategies and improve their quality of life.
In partnership with the American Cancer Society, Rush offers a patient navigator to assess individual patient needs and provide information about available treatments, community services and programs.
This is only a partial list of the treatment options offered here at Rush. For more information, please contact our office at (312) 563-2156. For more information about advanced surgical options, please see our Thoracic Surgery page.