The Interventional Pulmonology Department at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) treats lung cancer and the related symptoms that can cause discomfort, like shortness of breath, coughing or chest pain, all without performing surgery. The team also treats patients with cancers that metastasize to the lungs and patients with other chronic lung diseases.
What is an interventional pulmonologist?
An interventional pulmonologist is a physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the lungs and respiratory system. Specifically, interventional pulmonologists perform advanced techniques to diagnose and treat complex conditions of the airways, lungs and the rest of the respiratory system. They also perform less invasive procedures for diagnosis and treatment of benign and malignant diseases.
Experienced interventional pulmonology team
The interventional pulmonary team at CTCA® specializes in diagnosing and managing lung cancer and other cancers that have spread to the lung or airways. We also manage complications that may develop from therapy to the airways or airway obstructions that result from advanced diseases, and we use various procedures to treat pleural effusions (fluid around the lung), which may compound the effects of lung cancer.
In addition to treating tumors, many pulmonology techniques and procedures may help support your quality of life. At CTCA, your team includes oncologists and pulmonologists who work together to tailor these lung cancer treatments to your specific needs.
When you arrive at CTCA, if pulmonary medicine is part of your care, you will meet with the interventional pulmonology team. Before you begin treatment, if needed, we’ll use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and procedures to evaluate the location and stage of cancer, as well as the existence of metastasis. Using the results, we will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs. Throughout your care, the interventional pulmonology team will help answer your questions and help make your treatment experience as comfortable and efficient as possible.
We use advanced, minimally invasive bronchoscopy techniques for many of our interventional pulmonology procedures. We provide a number of interventional pulmonology treatment options for each patient, including those with advanced-stage disease. We can apply innovative techniques and ablative treatments to help remove obstructions in the airway and to help relieve pain or breathing problems.
Bronchoscopy is a technology that uses a bronchoscope—a flexible and/or rigid tube with a camera at the end—that allows us to examine the airways. We use the bronchoscope to deliver laser and other cancer-killing technologies to tumors buried deep inside the lungs. As a result, we help manage symptoms like bleeding or coughing, open up a blocked airway and treat very early-stage lung cancer or a previously treated area.
Navigational bronchoscopy combines advanced imaging techniques to help find and diagnose cancer in the lungs. We use navigational bronchoscopy to reach distant tumors by advancing the scope into smaller bronchi or bronchi that are blocked by a tumor. Other procedures performed via bronchoscopy include:
- Controlling bleeding in the airway
- Therapeutically removing a tumor and foreign bodies from the airway
- Treating growths or tumors in the airway using radiation (i.e., HDR brachytherapy)
- Placing airway stents
Explore interventional pulmonology procedures
What cancers does the interventional pulmonology team treat?
The interventional pulmonology team provides advanced cancer treatments for any cancer that affects the lung. This includes primary lung cancer as well as other cancers that spread (metastasize) to the lung and airways. The team also treats lung problems, such as an obstruction in the airway, regardless of the type of cancer that caused the blockage.
Breast, colon, renal cell (kidney), melanoma and esophageal cancer are examples of common cancer types that spread to the lung and airways.
Improving your quality of life during treatment
About 30 percent of lung cancers lead to obstruction of the airway. Some symptoms of an obstruction include wheezing, respiratory failure and uncontrolled cough. If you experience this condition, our interventional pulmonology team provides advanced options and techniques to help improve your quality of life.
For example, many patients with lung cancer and lung metastasis experience difficulty breathing. Not only does central airway obstruction impact your quality of life, it can also interfere with your treatment regime. If you can’t breathe properly, you won’t be able to receive certain treatments, such as high-dose chemotherapy. Our team will help relieve your symptoms so you can maximize your breathing function and receive treatment.
“Here, we try to make it so your daily living is the best it can be. And, if it’s not, then why are we doing it? It’s definitely a patient-based care plan,” says Morrow. “A lot of our patients have been told from other facilities basically to go home, that there is nothing else they can do for them. At CTCA, we don’t give up hope for these patients. Dr. Lund offers regular comfort for late-stage disease. If you stent an airway, the breathing is easier. This increases quality of life tremendously.”
Sleep Diagnostic Lab
Sometimes the effects of tumor growth, certain cancer treatments, medications and/or side effects can cause sleep disturbances. Poor sleep can interfere with your ability to tolerate lung cancer treatment. Our Sleep Diagnotic Lab helps treat sleep disorders so you can get the rest you need to fight the disease.
Intensive Care Unit
The department also treats intensive care patients. In the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), a doctor is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For instance, surgery patients who need a high level of care after a procedure may need to stay in the ICU for a period of time.