Medically Reviewed by Vinod K. Jona, MD
Early detection, diagnosis, and staging of lung cancer across the entire spectrum often begins with the important procedures brought to bear by the pulmonologist in determining whether or not a lung cancer is present. One procedure for the pulmonologist is the basic bronchoscopy.
A more sophisticated approach is the Endobronchial Ultrasound Bronchoscopy or EBUS. EBUS provides a minimally invasive means to see beyond the bronchial wall to diseased tissue, lymph nodes, or lesions outside of the bronchial airway. The improved images allow the pulmonologist to easily view difficult to reach areas and to access more and smaller lymph nodes for biopsy with the aspiration needle than through conventional means. Navigational Bronchoscopy is also available to the pulmonologist.
These are all powerful state-of-the-art tools, and provide the pulmonologist with a high degree of confidence in the detection of lung cancer. Bronchial stent placement and Argon Laser treatment are other important tools the pulmonologist will often use in his treatment of the lung cancer patient.
Treatment will most often include a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
Molecular Targeted Therapy designed to treat cancer by interrupting unique molecular markers or abnormalities that drive cancer growth. This type of targeted therapy deploys drugs designed to interfere with specific biochemical pathways that lead to the growth and spread of particular cancers.
A new device, the PET/CT Scanner is a more powerful tool than the stand-alone CT scan. The combined PET/CT scans provide images that pinpoint the anatomic location of abnormal metabolic activity within the body. The combined scans have been shown to provide more accurate diagnoses than the two scans performed separately.
Another technological development is the Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) for the treatment of lung cancer in the medically inoperable patient. The advantages of SBRT are high-dose delivery, reduced treatment time, minimal radiation exposure and reduced adverse effects.
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
Know the symptoms of lung cancer and, if you smoke, stop. Where lung cancer has been diagnosed in smokers, studies clearly show that patients who stop smoking after diagnosis tend to have better outcomes than those who continue to smoke. Smoking cessation, therefore, will always be indicated as part of any treatment plan.
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