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Lung Cancer

From screening and diagnosis to treatment, Memorial Hermann Hospital’s comprehensive Lung Cancer Program provides personalized, multi-disciplinary and cutting-edge care for lung cancer patients. A highly specialized team of physicians, who are affiliated with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School, are also involved in clinical research that translates directly into advanced patient care. The team also includes a social worker and nurse navigator to ensure that you never feel lost in a medical maze.

Lung Cancer Types

  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Small cell lung cancer
    • Small cell carcinoma (oat cell cancer)
    • Combined small cell carcinoma

Lung Cancer Diagnosis

If a CT scan detects an abnormal finding, the lung cancer program at Memorial Hermann is equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to diagnose lung cancer:

Using these advanced technologies, diagnosis and staging can be performed in a single procedure.  The procedure begins with a biopsy, analyzed immediately by an on-site pathologist to determine whether or not a mass is malignant. If it is, the pulmonary interventional oncologist “stages” the cancer – determines its exact size, location and the extent to which it may have spread beyond the lungs – without a follow-up procedure.

Staging for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

First, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the lungs or to other parts of the body. The process used to determine if the cancer has spread is called staging, which is important in planning treatment. Some of the tests used to diagnose lung cancer are also used to stage the disease, including MRI, CT scan and PET scan.

Multi-disciplinary Lung Nodule Program

The Lung Nodule Program at Memorial Hermann brings a multi-disciplinary team together to expedite the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of lung nodules and lesions. The team collaboratively reviews each case and, following a lung cancer diagnosis, recommends the best treatment option for each patient. Challenging cases are addressed by tumor boards where physicians meet to discuss treatment options and create clear, consistent plans for patients. The multi-disciplinary team is made up of affiliated:

  • Diagnostic, vascular and interventional radiologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Pathologists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Thoracic surgeons

Early stage lung cancer is treated with curative surgery performed by thoracic surgeons who specialize in doing these procedures. For those patients who are unable to undergo lung surgery Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SBRT) is also available.  Treatment options in later stages may include one or a combination of therapies:

  • Surgery – lobectomy (removing part of the lung) or pneumonectomy (removing the entire lung)
  • Radiation- Including Intensity-Modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)
  • Chemotherapy and targeted drugs – including genetic profiling and next-generation sequencing (NSG) to identify specifically targeted therapies

In addition, our affiliation with UTHealth provides qualifying patients with access to clinical trials that further expand treatment options.

The lung cancer team also provides early palliative care for advanced lung cancer patients – treatment that relieves discomfort, symptoms and stress. Studies have shown that this approach not only improves quality of life, it also prolongs it. Doctors also work with patients to establish advanced directives and identify goals for care.

During and after treatment, specialized lung cancer support groups give patients, survivors and their families’ assistance addressing emotional needs and healthy lifestyle choices. Patients are also cared for by a team of skilled professionals in the areas of interventional and diagnostic imaging, nutritional counseling and weight-loss management, a social worker as well as an oncology nurse navigator who will help guide the patient through every step of their treatment and keep open lines of communication with the referring physician on the patient's treatment plan.