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The Lung Cancer program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Thoracic Surgery employs a variety of minimally-invasive and advanced surgical approaches, including video-assisted thorascopic surgery (VATS) to treat lung cancer. The Division of Thoracic Surgery has board-certified thoracic surgeons with decades of experience to treat patients with all stages of lung cancer. We create an individualized treatment approach for each patient and often work together with physicians from other medical specialties to treat the most challenging patients and conditions.
Our surgeons, oncologists, radiologists and pathologists are highly specialized. They have unique experience in safely and rapidly diagnosing and staging thoracic cancers. This expert analysis helps each patient’s doctors to tailor an individualized treatment plan. The plan is made on the day of the multidisciplinary visit to determine the best therapy for each patient. Mass General has one of the most experienced programs in the world treating lung cancers with genetic mutations. Appointments are usually scheduled within one week.
We use the most advanced diagnostic imaging tools, including:
We offer a number of minimally-invasive endoscopic procedures to aid in diagnosing thoracic malignancies, such as:
All thoracic specimens are reviewed by pathologists specializing in thoracic pathology. Our pathologists are recognized for their expertise in thoracic pathology, including lung cancers and mesotheliomas. They lecture internationally and receive requests for consultations from around the world. They are expert in preparing and processing specimens for complex genetic and mutational analysis.
For those thoracic cancer patients whose treatment will involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or some combination of all three therapies, our integrated approach offers a unique combination of multidisciplinary care and the most advanced surgical, medical, and radiation therapies.
Our leading-edge medical therapies include:
Mass General thoracic surgeons perform the following resections for lung cancer:
Consultations can also be obtained via the Center for Thoracic Cancers at the Mass General Cancer Center. The lung cancer research program, supported by Mass General thoracic surgery, is a multifaceted effort designed to understand thoracic cancer biology, discover novel agents, and improve treatment.
We have a rich history of clinical innovation in the treatment of thoracic disease — especially the care of lung and esophageal cancers — dating back to the 1930s. The first anatomic segmentectomy for lung cancer was reported by Dr. Churchill in 1939. Our program provides advanced treatment for cancers involving:
Massachusetts General Hospital is among the first to create a multidisciplinary thoracic oncology clinic. Our team approach ensures that each patient benefits from an individualized, coordinated treatment plan involving thoracic oncology experts from a wide array of specialties, including:
Our clinicians work together with the patient and his or her primary care physician to create a coordinated treatment plan for all aspects of care. We work with the patient and their referring physician throughout treatment to ensure the best possible outcome.We also offer a wide range of free educational programs and support services designed to address the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of patients and their families.
Our program is a national leader in the treatment of thoracic cancers. We were the first to pioneer several of the surgical procedures and radiation therapies, and targeted therapies used to treat these cancers, and we continue to advance the field of cancer medicine with new techniques and research. We treat thousands of patients annually, and studies show that such high-volume experience results in improved patient outcomes.
Specialization also improves outcomes. Among our highly specialized services is the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center. It is the Northeast’s only proton radiation facility, offering precisely-targeted radiation that eliminates tumors while reducing damage to healthy tissue. This therapy may be used for patients with certain thoracic cancers.
We offer patients a multifaceted, individualized approach to care, including:
We are one of the nation’s foremost centers for research on thoracic cancers. Access to the latest research allows us to bring promising new treatments to patients as quickly as possible. Some of our current trials include:
Pulmonary Resection Outcomes See how Mass General’s pulmonary resection outcomes compare to national accreditation standards.
Patient Ratings of Thoracic Surgeons See how Mass General’s thoracic surgery patients rate their doctors.
Lobectomy for Lung Cancer Outcomes Learn more Mass General’s outcomes for lobectomy compared to national averages.
Accepting New Patients
Lung cancer is cancer that usually starts in the lining of the bronchi (the main airways of the lungs), but can also begin in other areas of the respiratory system, including the trachea, bronchioles, or alveoli.
The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center is a program that offers a range of support resources around the Cancer Center. The center has an ongoing mission to make support services, as well as respite and community-building areas, more accessible to patients and families throughout the Cancer Center.
Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.
Research shows a clear benefit for CT lung-cancer screening among individuals who meet strict criteria. Patients and referrers should understand both the benefit and the potential for false positive results.
Research at Mass General leads to breakthroughs in cancer treatment and prevention.
Alice Shaw, MD, thoracic oncologist at the Mass General Cancer Center, says patients with lung cancer can benefit from genetic testing, particularly if they are young non-smokers. Learn more about personalized treatment for lung cancer and new "smart drugs" that target a tumor's specific genetic mutation to slow the cancer's growth, and in some cases, reduce it significantly.
Patients who meet specific criteria are eligible for an annual low-dose CT scan (LDCT) to screen for lung cancer. If lung cancer can be detected at earlier stages, it has the best chance of being cured.
Division of Thoracic Surgery
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