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Interventional pulmonology

This specialty allows doctors to diagnose lung cancers, lung masses and other abnormalities in the chest using minimally invasive technologies and techniques.

About 30 percent of lung cancers lead to airway obstruction, causing symptoms like wheezing, respiratory failure and uncontrolled cough. Many lung cancer patients accumulate excess fluid around the lungs, called pleural effusion, which may cause pain, shortness of breath and other complications. Additionally, some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, may cause scarring in the lungs. Interventional pulmonologists treat cancer-related symptoms that may cause discomfort, such as shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain.

The Interventional Pulmonology Program at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) treats primary lung cancer and cancers that have spread (metastasized) to the lung(s), such as airway obstruction caused by an abnormal growth; bronchopleural fistulas; pneumothoraces; enlargement of certain lymph nodes in the lung, a condition known as mediastinal and hilar adenopathy; and pleural diseases, which are conditions impacting the area between the lungs and the chest wall.

Interventional pulmonologists perform minimally invasive pulmonology procedures to accomplish goals such as removing obstructions in the airway and fluid around the lungs and relieving symptoms that cause breathing discomfort.

We use a wide variety of interventional pulmonology treatments. Examples include:

Removing endoscopic bronchial tumors: A bronchoscope is a flexible tube with a camera at the end that is used to deliver laser and other cancer-killing technologies to tumors buried deep inside the lungs.

Placing fiducial markers: These tiny objects are placed in or near a tumor as a point of reference during stereotactic radiosurgery, a nonsurgical, precision-focused form of radiation therapy.

Inserting airway stents: A stent is inserted to secure an open airway and help patients breathe better.

Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS): Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is used to diagnose and treat symptoms in the chest, including lung cancer, with the aid of a thorascope—an endoscope with a small video camera—that transmits an image of the chest cavity onto a video monitor to help guide the procedure. VATS may be used to biopsy lung tissue and to perform complex procedures, such as lung resections (lobectomy).