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 aggressive interventional procedures in the airways and chest cavity, including advanced bronchoscopic and pleuroscopic techniques.
Experienced interventional pulmonology team
In addition to treating tumors, many pulmonology techniques and procedures can significantly improve 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’ll meet with the interventional pulmonology team. Before you begin treatment, 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 that best suits your needs. Throughout your care, the interventional pulmonology team will help answer your questions and do everything possible to make your treatment experience as comfortable and efficient as possible.
We specialize in advanced, minimally invasive bronchoscopy techniques for many of our interventional pulmonology procedures. We provide a full range of interventional pulmonology treatment options for each patient, including those with late-stage disease. We can apply innovative techniques and ablative treatments to help remove obstructions in the airway and relieve pain or breathing problems.
Bronchoscopy is a technology that uses a flexible tube with a camera at the end (a bronchoscope) that allows us to look inside the lungs and airway. We use the bronchoscope to deliver laser and other cancer-killing technologies to tumors buried deep inside the lungs. As a result, we can manage symptoms like bleeding or coughing, open up a blocked airway and treat a very early stage lung cancer or a previously treated area. Our lung cancer patients benefit from bronchoscopy procedures because they minimize the risks of more invasive treatments.
Navigational bronchoscopy combines advanced imaging techniques with electromagnetic navigation to help find and treat cancer anywhere 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. Navigational bronchoscopy procedures may be used to:
- Suction excess fluid or mucus from the airway or chest
- Control bleeding in the airway
- Therapeutically remove foreign bodies from the airway, such as aspirated food
- Treat growths or tumors in the airway using radiation (i.e., HDR brachytherapy)
- Place 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.