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Interventional Pulmonology

interventional pulmonology

Our department

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.

Treatment advances

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

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.

The interventional pulmonology team at Southeastern

Dr. Rabih Bechara joined Southeastern in December 2012 as the Chief of Interventional Pulmonology, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. He is in charge of building the pulmonology division at Southeastern, which offers advanced endoscopic diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to treating patients with abnormal growth and malignancies in the chest cavity.

Procedures that Dr. Bechara performs include endoscopic ultrasonography, confocal microendoscopy, pleuroscopy, stent placement for airway stenosis, photodynamic therapy and fiducial marker placement, to name a few.

“My goal for my patients is for them to have a better quality of life,” says Dr. Bechara. “If they have a good quality of life and I can make them feel comfortable during treatment, then I’ll be happy.”

Prior to joining CTCA, Dr. Bechara founded and directed the interventional pulmonology program at Emory University School of Medicine.

Managing side effects

About 30 percent of lung cancers lead to obstruction of the airway. Some symptoms of an obstruction include wheezing, respiratory failure and uncontrolled cough.

As a patient at CTCA at Southeastern Regional Medical Center (Southeastern), if you experience this condition (regardless of the type of cancer you are battling), the pulmonology team will use advanced tools and techniques in interventional pulmonology to help improve your quality of life.

Furthermore, to help you maintain a good quality of life throughout your care, your multidisciplinary care team at Southeastern will provide a combination of integrative oncology services alongside your medical treatments.

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