Lung Cancer Services: Conditions & Treatments
The lung cancer specialists at UC Irvine Health provide complete diagnostic testing and leading-edge treatments for patients with lung cancer and other diseases and disorders affecting the lungs and airways.
Our multidisciplinary lung cancer team treats the following conditions:
- Lymphomas of the chest
- Thymomas and other mediastinal tumors
We also treat lung cancers that have metastasized, or spread, from elsewhere in the body, including cancers of the breast and esophagus.
If you are a current or former tobacco smoker or have been exposed to asbestos, you may be a higher risk for lung cancer. At UC Irvine Health, we offer a screening program designed to assess your risk and detect lung cancer in its early stages.
Until recently, no test had proven effective for finding lung cancer in these stages. A recent national study showed that low-dose spiral computed tomography (LDCT) scans were more effective than standard chest X-rays at finding early signs of lung cancer.
During a consultation, our lung cancer specialists discuss your history and your individual risk for developing the disease. If you meet the criteria, LDCT screening may be offered.
If a suspicious nodule or spot is found in your lungs or chest during screening, more definitive diagnosis and staging procedures are performed.
Methods to sample and stage your tumor include:
- Endobronchial ultrasound-guided sampling of the lymph nodes in the center of your chest (mediastinal staging). This can be augmented with endoscopic ultrasound through the esophagus when necessary.
- Minimally invasive surgical sampling of the mediastinum, using mediastinoscopy, and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery when necessary
- Bronchoscopic sampling of suspicious peripheral nodules using radial endobronchial ultrasound and other navigational techniques
- Biopsies of suspicious nodules using video-assisted thorascopic or robot-assisted surgery
Our team members thoroughly review your medical history, test results and relevant data. Your imaging studies are examined by a multidisciplinary team that is comprised of interventional pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, chest radiologists and nuclear medicine specialists.
Your case also is presented to a multispecialty tumor board for a complete evaluation and recommendations. This ensures that all of the best treatment options are considered before the most appropriate are recommended to you. We work with you to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs.
You and each of our patients is assigned a nurse navigator who knows your case and every member of your treatment team. Your nurse navigator helps with all your physician contacts and communications, assuring that at all times, everyone is working in concert. Your nurse and providers are available to you around the clock, assuring you continuous, personalized care.
At UC Irvine Health, treatments may include highly specialized procedures and therapies not available to the general community.
Nonsurgical treatment options include endoluminal treatments that destroy tumors blocking the airways from inside the windpipe. These include:
- Rigid bronchoscopy, a minimally invasive surgical technique that allows the physician to remove airway tumors without incisions
- Laser ablation
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT)—a kind of gradually working laser
- Cryosurgery, which involves freezing the tumor inside the airway before resecting it
- Argon plasma coagulation
- Airway stents to keep airways open while other treatments proceed
Many of these treatments are performed with rigid bronchoscopy. This involves passing a highly specialized tube-shaped camera through your mouth and voicebox into your airways. It can deliver all the above treatments, open blocked airways, resect tumors and leave stents to keep the airways open.
Leading-edge systemic therapies also are available. These are designed to match the molecular profile of your tumors, a targeted treatment that aims for highest possible effectiveness and the least side effects. Many of these therapies are available only through research protocols and clinical trials. At our lung cancer consultation, our team determines whether you may be a candidate for any ongoing clinical trials.
Other interventions may include:
- Excision of the tumor or tumors with minimally invasive video-assisted thoracoscopic or robot-assisted surgical approaches
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which destroys tumors with high-energy radio waves administered by a needle inserted through the chest wall, without the need for an incision
- Radiation therapy and stereotactic radio surgery, which delivers radiation energy directly to the tumor while preserving surrounding tissues
Patients with lung cancer often experience airway obstructions and tumor invasions that cause discomfort and pain. The focus of our lung cancer palliative care team is to provide patients with the highest level of care and comfort.
We work to keep airways open and to provide relief for shortness of breath and pain.