Lung Cancer Treatments

How Is Lung Cancer Treated?

At City of Hope, we treat the patient, not the disease. This means that your cancer care team works together to determine the best course of care for you. Lung cancer care options may include minimally invasive, laparoscopic and robotic surgery, or nonsurgical treatments like targeted therapies, immunotherapy and radiological approaches.

The City of Hope Difference

We take a team-based approach to your health and offer access to advanced procedures that are not available at other centers. Our thoracic specialists are among the best when it comes to minimally invasive, lung-sparing surgery for lung cancer, and we perform one of the largest volumes of thoracic surgeries in California. We were also the first in our region to offer access to the robotic-assisted endoscopic Monarch platform, which safely and reliably diagnoses patients with small, peripheral nodules in the lung.

With locations across the country, City of Hope’s premier treatment is available close to home, with same-day appointments at many of our sites.

What Lung Cancer Doctors Will I See at My Appointment?

Your lung cancer care team works together to find the most targeted, least invasive treatment for you, with the goal of preserving your lung function and quality of life. Your care is coordinated by a multidisciplinary team, which may include oncologists, pathologists, nurses, radiologists, researchers and support staff, all working together to determine the best treatment options for you.

What Are the Different Types of Lung Cancer Surgery?

There are several types of surgical treatments for lung cancer.

  • Lobectomy is the removal of an entire lobe of the lung. This is the most common type of surgery to treat lung cancer.
  • Segmentectomy is the removal of a large segment of a lobe of the lung.
  • Wedge resection is the removal of a piece of lung (smaller than a segment).
  • Pneumonectomy is the removal of the entire lung on one side.
  • Sleeve resection involves removing part of the airway, with or without the lobe of the lung, and sewing the airway back together. This procedure is usually done to avoid removing the entire lung.

Approaches to Lung Cancer Surgery

Our expert lung cancer surgeons use the latest in surgical techniques. This allows us to prioritize lung-sparing surgery whenever possible. 

  • Robotic-assisted surgery is performed through several small incisions. This procedure uses a tiny video camera to view the inside of the chest, as well as robotically controlled instruments that surgeons operate with hand and foot controls.
  • VATS (video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery) is also performed through small incisions. Surgeons insert long instruments and a tiny video camera through the incisions, allowing them to perform the same procedures that would be done in a thoracotomy without having to spread the ribs.
  • Thoracotomy is traditional open surgery, in which a large incision is made in the chest and the ribs are spread in order to reach the lung tissue.

Immunotherapy for Lung Cancer

Cancer immunotherapy is a treatment that harnesses parts of your own immune system to fight cancer. One way that cancer cells grow out of control is by “tricking” the immune system into not attacking them. Immunotherapy works by helping the body’s immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells. 

Different immunotherapy treatments work differently. Some boost the body’s overall immune response. Others work by injecting manmade versions of immune system proteins into the body. Immunotherapy drugs have been approved for treating some types of lung cancer, and in some cases these treatments work better than conventional chemotherapy.

The field of immunotherapy is rapidly evolving. Researchers at City of Hope’s Department of Immuno-Oncology are among the scientists working to develop and test new lung cancer immunotherapy treatments.

Targeted Therapy for Lung Cancer

Targeted therapy is based on understanding the genetic makeup of an individual patient’s cancer. By analyzing the unique genetic makeup of a tumor, specialists at City of Hope can design more personalized therapies to block cancer growth. They do so by targeting gene mutations in the cancer.

Compared to conventional chemotherapy drugs, medications that target specific mutations often have better response rates. In many cases, targeted therapies are also less toxic to healthy cells, which can mean fewer side effects. 

Biomarker-Driven Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy interrupts the growth and function of cancer cells by zeroing in on certain abnormalities in lung cancers cells. This affects cancer cells only and it helps to reduce damage to healthy cells.
Learn more about biomarker testing at City of Hope.

Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer

Radiation therapy plays a pivotal role in the treatment of lung cancer of all stages. For patients with early-stage lung cancer, radiation therapy can lead to long-term curative outcomes.
City of Hope uses leading-edge radiation therapy techniques, such as:

  • Helical TomoTherapy
  • 4D CT (computed tomography) scanning 
  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy and image-guided radiation therapy
  • Stereotactic body radiation

Find out more about radiation therapy for lung cancer.

Chemotherapy for Lung Cancer

Chemotherapy uses cancer drugs to interfere with cancer cells’ ability to grow and divide. Different drug combinations work in different ways to fight cancer cells.

Interventional Pulmonology for Lung Cancer

Combining patient-centered care with expertise and technology at the forefront of thoracic medicine, City of Hope's interventional pulmonology program provides the most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic interventions available.
The leading-edge interventional pulmonology techniques available include:
  • Rigid bronchoscopy
  • Endobronchial ultrasound with biopsy
  • Robotic bronchoscopy
  • Medical pleuroscopy
  • Photodynamic therapy