Browse by Medical Category
Talk to an access nurse today
At the Center for Thoracic Cancers, our multidisciplinary team of lung cancer specialists put together a comprehensive treatment plan just for you. Many lung patients benefit from our approach. You will see lung cancer specialists from medical oncology, radiation oncology and surgery. We:
Patients are usually seen within one week of referral.
The Center for Thoracic Cancers is among the first in the nation to provide new targeted therapies for non-small cell lung cancer. Consistently ranked as one of the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report, we provide the promising new therapies and innovative approaches to clinical care, including:
All members of our team of pathologists and radiologists are nationally recognized for their expertise. Our pathologists participate in weekly tumor board meetings, sharing information about each patient’s unique cancer with the entire team to help guide care planning. Our radiologists use the most advanced imaging tools to diagnose and stage thoracic cancers and to detect changes in tumors. Our imaging methods include:
Our minimally invasive image-guided procedures for diagnosis include:
Some new cancer drugs currently available or in development are designed to block some of the mutations that cause tumors to grow. By targeting tumor gene mutations with these “smart drugs”, our doctors are beginning to understand how to destroy cancer cells in some patients' tumors without traditional chemotherapy and radiation.
We are among a select few centers in the world to offer comprehensive genotyping of thoracic cancers as part of our pathological assessment. Genotyping allows us to test each tumor for certain genetic mutations, which can reveal weaknesses in an individual’s cancer. We can exploit these weaknesses using targeted therapies. Understanding genetics of a tumor helps us choose the most effective treatment for a patient’s cancer.
We are among a select few health care institutions in the world to offer comprehensive genotyping of thoracic cancers as a routine component of our pathological assessment. This genotyping allows us to test each tumor for certain genetic mutations. These genetic markers indicate certain weaknesses in an individual’s cancer; weaknesses that we can exploit using targeted therapies. By understanding the genetics behind each lung tumor we are able to choose the specific type of treatment that will be most effective for that particular patient’s cancer. Learn more about genotyping.
Our team of dedicated surgeons treats some of the most challenging and complex cases from across the US. We focus only on thoracic surgery and have pioneered many now-standard procedures used to treat thoracic cancers. The team provides state-of-the-art evaluation, treatment and post-surgical services, including:
We offer many minimally invasive surgical procedures, such as:
Specialists in the Thoracic Radiation Oncology Program employ high-precision radiation therapy to treat patients with lung cancers and other cancers in the chest with the overarching goal of causing little or no side effects. Pioneering technological advances for the benefit of our patients include:
Our radiation oncologists are part of a highly specialized multidisciplinary team that closely coordinates the care of each patient. Cutting-edge research aims at increasing the efficacy and reducing the side effects of radiation therapy as well as integrating radiation with revolutionizing biological drug therapies.
For more information, please see the Thoracic Radiation Oncology Program.
Our team approach ensures that every patient benefits from a personalized, coordinated and compassionate treatment plan that includes leading experts across many specialties.
Members of your care team meet regularly with you and contact your referring physician on an ongoing basis to ensure clear communication and a seamless coordination of care.
Director, Center for Thoracic Cancers
Clinical Director, Center for Thoracic Cancers
Director for Thoracic Radiation Oncology
Chief, Thoracic Surgery
Thoracic Oncology Director, Thoracic Surgery
Cancer that begins in any part of the lungs is called lung cancer. The two basic types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. There is also a third type of lung cancer that is very rare, called mesothelioma.
The American Cancer Society estimated that about 234,030 new cases of lung cancer (both non-small cell and small cell) would be diagnosed in the United States in 2018. It is important to remember that great strides have been made in our understanding of lung cancer. Ways to treat lung cancer have advanced even from just a few years ago.
The first step in diagnosing any disease is to complete a medical history and physical exam. In order to diagnose lung cancer, your doctor may also order tests and procedures such as:
These tests and procedures can also help your doctor determine the stage of lung cancer. Staging is a way of describing how much the cancer has grown, how big it is and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Staging is important because it helps your doctor plan your treatment and determine your outlook (prognosis). Lung cancer has 4 stages, numbered from 1 to 4.
If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, your care team will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you. This plan will depend on the type and stage of your cancer, your general health, and your treatment preferences.
Lung cancer surgery may involve removal of a tumor and some nearby healthy tissue, part of a bronchus, an entire lobe (section) of a lung or an entire lung. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may also be used to kill any cancer cells left behind.
Other common treatment options for lung cancer include the following:
Learn more about Lung Cancer
Clinical trials are research studies which are conducted to answer questions. They can test many things including new drugs, new combinations of drugs, or already approved drugs being studied to treat patients in new or different ways. They may include new drug doses or new ways (schedules) to give the drugs. Clinical trials are run under strict guidelines with specific criteria for eligibility and treatment. Their purpose is to help find out whether new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard (current) treatment.
The Mass General Hospital Thoracic Oncology Program has a very active clinical research portfolio with the latest, top-notch investigational studies covering a wide spectrum of thoracic cancer care. The ultimate goal of clinical research is to improve the outcomes for all of our patients. If you are eligible for a clinical trial, your physician will offer you the chance for participation. We will comprehensively review the logistics and purpose of the trial and also offer alternatives including the standard of care.
The Cancer Center also offers the MGH Cancer Care Equity Program, which strives to promote awareness about and access to cancer clinical trials through community outreach and education, financial assistance, and patient navigation.
Watch Dr. Justin Gainor discuss immunotherapy research at Mass General Cancer Center.
Watch Dr. Alice Shaw discuss two recent studies on next-generation ALK inhibitors for ALK-positive lung cancer patients.
MGH Thoracic Oncology Program at the 2019 AACR Annual Meeting
The 2019 AACR Annual Meeting was held in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 29th through April 3rd 2019. The MGH Thoracic Oncology Program was represented in several research presentations, including the following:
View more research presentations
These stories highlight the strength, courage, resiliency of our patients and the coordinated effort of the Thoracic Oncology team to provide the best care to our patients.
“Training is about perseverance and setting goals. I want to give the doctors something they can recommend to their patients, just like they’ve given something to me.” Read Yariv's Story
"We felt we were with people who knew what they’re doing and they were so kind. It was such a shining moment." Read Andy's Story
"In my particular case, I wouldn’t be alive if I didn’t come here. I have stage 4 lung cancer and my care here has been just absolutely cutting edge." Read Linnea's Story
"Maybe I can’t cure it, but I can make it better. I can’t see giving in, I’ve got to fight." Read Allison and Rich's Story
"Everyone at MGH went above and beyond and helped each and every day toward winning this wedding. They cared about me, checked in daily and treated me like family." Read Justin's Story
"I was never afraid of coming here. I’ve always felt right at home. I actually enjoy coming here at this point. I have so many friends that have gone beyond the doctor-patient relationship. They are truly friends." Read Jay's Story
"I was the first patient enrolled in the initial EGFR-targeted therapy clinical trial at Mass General. I didn’t have any hesitancy about starting a clinical trial because I had so much confidence in Mass General and in my team that I believed it had to be the best option.” Read Greg's Story
If you have any questions or would like to speak with one of our doctors, please call the Center for Thoracic Cancers at 617-724-4000.
We appreciate your interest in supporting the Center for Thoracic Cancers at the Mass General Cancer Center and we invite you to join the Cancer Center community by participating in whatever way you are able.
Click here to donate directly to the Center for Thoracic Cancers. Be a Piece of the Solution was started by a Mass General Cancer Center patient family to provide direct financial support to the Thoracic Cancer Center. Click here to read more about Be a Piece of the Solution.
View thoracic oncology team members honored for their commitment to the fight against cancer.
Justin Gainor, MD
Natasha Johnson, MSW, LICSW
Inga T. Lennes, MD, MPH, MBA
Lecia Sequist, MD, MPH
Alice T. Shaw, MD, PhD
Jennifer Temel, MD
Zofia Piotrowska, MD, awarded the 2018 Jonathan Kraft Team Science Awards during the Jonathan Kraft Symposium for her research in cancer immunotherapy. The MGH team who won included Mark Cobbold, MRSC, PhD, MGH Cancer Center; Aaron Hata, MD, PhD, MGH Cancer Center; Zofia Piotrowska, MD, MGH Cancer Center; Kerry Reynolds, MD, Hematology/Oncology Unit; and Alexandra-Chloe Villani, PhD, Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology Division.
Clinical Director Jennifer Temel, MD was recently presented with the Walther Cancer Foundation Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Endowed Award. Endowed by the Walther Cancer Foundation, this award and lecture was established to recognize a distinguished lecturer and leader with multiple, significant, and enduring contributions to palliative and supportive care in oncology through the prevention, assessment and management of cancer- and treatment-related suffering. Dr. Temel will accept her award and present a keynote lecture at the 2018 Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium taking place November 16-17, in San Diego, California. Click here for more information. Congrats, Jennifer!
Nicolas Marcoux, MD, was presented with the Young Investigator Award 2018 by PrIME Oncology, recognizing his research on small cell transformation in EGFR-mutant lung cancer. Congratulations, Nick!
Jessica Lin, MD, received the Conquer Cancer Foundation/American Society of Clinical Oncology Young Investigator Award for her research on tumor heterogeneity of fusion oncogene-driven lung cancers. Congratulations, Jessica!
Lecia Sequist, MD was presented with the Lung Cancer Interception Research Award from the collaboration of Stand Up to Cancer, LUNGevity, and the American Lung Association. The $2 million research award focus on lung cancer interception—catching precancerous cells and blocking them from turning into cancer cells. The goal of these interdisciplinary and multi-institutional awards studies is to find noninvasive, widely available diagnostic and early detection tools that will dramatically change outcomes for people with lung cancer. For more information, click here. Congrats, Lecia!
View more awards
Dr. Shaw celebrates International Women’s Day with Stand Up to Cancer! Mass General Lung Cancer Director, Alice Shaw, MD, PhD, proudly represents women in science leadership as the Stand Up to Cancer American Cancer Society Lung Cancer Dream Team Co-Leader. Watch the video to hear Dr. Shaw and Dr. Jaffee explain why it’s so important to have women in science and in leadership spaces. We are especially proud to support this mission with our large team of strong, intelligent women leaders and clinicians within the Mass General Thoracic Oncology team.
Mass General lung cancer patient wins Super Bowl tickets!Dr. Shaw’s patient Patty Watkins wins the Chris Draft Family Foundation - Lung Cancer Survivor Superbowl Challenge, a competition for cancer survivors to raise funding for research and public awareness. Five-year cancer survivor, Patty was rewarded with two Super Bowl tickets to her hometown stadium in Atlanta! Click here to watch Patty and Chris’s CNN interview.
Former NFL player Chris Draft established this initiative to raise lung cancer awareness and increase badly needed research funding through its Campaign To Change The Face Of Lung Cancer, which is committed to shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” As Draft explains, “the Super Bowl Challenge gives us a unique opportunity to use the overwhelming media coverage surrounding the Super Bowl as a platform to raise critical public awareness about lung cancer on an international level. With the game as a backdrop, we can use each survivor’s story to weave a broader narrative about the state of lung cancer and the hope that now exists for those battling the disease.” Click here to learn more about the Team Draft Super Bowl challenge.
Back to Top