Lung Cancer

Lung cancer remains the number one cancer killer in the U.S. Despite this, new treatments are offering people more hope and chances for cure than ever before. At Saint Vincent Hospital, we understand that lung cancer can be a frightening diagnosis. However, the treatments for lung cancer at our hospital are improving, and survival rates continue to increase.

Saint Vincent Hospital is at the forefront in robotic lung cancer surgery particularly in the field of robotic lobectomy, which has been proven as an effective treatment for early-stage lung cancer. Most, but not all, patients who develop lung cancer have smoked cigarettes at some point in their life. Heavy tobacco use, whether in the past or currently, can place patients at significantly greater risk.

Early detection of lung cancer (as with many cancers), offered through the lung cancer screening program at Saint Vincent Hospital, is key to improving survival rates from this dreaded disease. Our thoracic specialists have substantial experience and expertise in treating lung cancer, allowing us to increase the chances of better outcomes for our patients with lung cancer.

Better Breathing With Advanced Lung Care

The Saint Vincent Hospital Cancer Center at 1 Eaton Place in Worcester, MA offers comprehensive lung cancer diagnosis and treatment. A team approach with specialists from radiation oncology, medical oncology, thoracic surgery, pulmonary medicine, radiology and pathology provides the best care for patients. Our lung cancer center specializes in treating chest cancers with the most advanced medical and interventional approaches, supported by therapeutic advancements and advanced technologies.

What Is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer occurs when cells in the lung change or mutate, grow uncontrollably and form into a tumor that destroys surrounding healthy lung tissues. Cancerous cells can spread to other parts of the body from their original source and prevent organs from functioning properly.

What Are Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

Many people may not feel symptoms until lung cancer is in its advanced stages. A tumor could grow without causing pain or discomfort since the lungs have very few nerve endings. Lung cancer symptoms are different among people but may include:

  • A persistent cough that worsens
  • Constant chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Frequent lung infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Hoarseness
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath

Other lung cancer signs that are not related to breathing or lung problems include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Blood clots
  • Fractures or bone pain
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss

Consult with a lung cancer doctor if you experience any of these symptoms for proper diagnosis and evaluation.

How Do You Get Lung Cancer?

Various factors can cause mutations in lung cancer cells and permanently alter their DNA sequence. Inhaling toxic substances may cause lung cancer. Talk to our lung doctors if you have been exposed to any of the substances below:

  • Smoking - smoking is linked to up to 90% of lung cancer deaths in the U.S., making it the top risk factor for lung cancer. Toxic chemicals in cigarettes can cause this condition. Nonsmokers are also at risk when they breathe in secondhand smoke.
  • Genetics - if you have immediate family or close relatives with a history of lung cancer, it may increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Tell your doctor about this so you can be assessed appropriately.
  • Hazardous chemicals - working with materials such as uranium, nickel, asbestos, chromium, arsenic and some petroleum products can be dangerous to lung health.
  • Particle pollution - the air we breathe may contain very tiny particles that increase our risk of lung cancer.

Treating Lung Cancer

Surgical resection for lung cancer may involve the removal of a small portion of the lung, a lobe of the lung or occasionally an entire lung to achieve complete removal of the cancer and at the same time ensure normal breathing after surgery.

At Saint Vincent Hospital, we discuss and plan each lung cancer patient's treatment in our Multidisciplinary Tumor Board conference where providers from each of the lung cancer-related fields gather to discuss each specific patient's problem. Our outcomes are excellent due to advances in our ability to diagnose and treat lung cancer using individualized plans for each patient.

What Is a Lobectomy?

At Saint Vincent Hospital, we are skilled in a type of minimally invasive lung cancer surgery called robotic-assisted lobectomy. A traditional lobectomy (removal of a lobe of the lung) requires a large incision in the chest wall and spreading the ribs with a retractor to access the lung. On the other hand, lung lobectomy is performed through small incisions and without spreading the ribs. The Intuitive da Vinci robot is a system of four mechanical arms that hold and manipulate surgical instruments. It acts as a helper and a tool that allows a lung cancer surgeon to work delicately inside the body.

Because robotic tools enable surgeons to perform complex procedures in small spaces through a few small incisions, patients who receive robot-assisted lobectomy also tend to leave the hospital earlier, recover more quickly, experience less pain and have a more rapid recovery of lung function than patients treated with traditional lung cancer surgery.

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