Lung Cancer Treatment

Posted by Admin on July 20, 2006

There is some encouraging news tonight regarding the treatment of lung cancer. A minimally invasive procedure is shown to be so effective at zapping away tumors, it’s prolonging the lives of patients far beyond what’s currently expected. The best way to get rid of lung cancer is to cut it out. But many patients, like Candi Harrah, can’t have surgery, leaving them stuck with few good options. “My husband had noticed that I coughed up a little blood which I didn’t think was unusual because of sinus stuff, you know it is really easy to get nose bleeds when you have severe allergies.” But at the age of 50, after years of smoking cigarettes, Candi got a disturbing diagnosis: lung cancer. “The gentleman who read the scans said basically you have three months to live, we will make you as comfortable as possible. I said there is no way, there is no way I accepted that,” says Candi.

Candi came to Mt. Sinai Medical Center, where she got surgery along with a minimally invasive procedure for another tumor. The technique, called thermal ablation, essentially zapped away Candi’s tumor. Radiofrequency energy, which is similar to microwaves, is transmitted to the tip of a needle inserted into the tumor, killing it with heat.

“On the left hand side we see a cat scan. This is an image immediately after the radiofrequency ablation we see the cystic cavity within the tumor. Then you go three months later and it’s just a cavity here,” says Dr. Virginia Litle of Mt. Sinai Medical Center, who performs thermal ablation. A new study just released shows that among patients with non small cell lung cancer who were treated with thermal ablation, more than half survived to three years, two years beyond the average life expectancy.

“It was incredible simple, I have a scar maybe that big that you can’t even really see anymore,” exclaims Candi. Around a third of lung cancer patients can’t have an operation, either because of poor overall health status or because of poor lung function. But for these patients, minimally invasive procedures like thermal ablation can be a very good second line option.

 “This is a great modality to add to our armamentarium for fighting lung cancer especially for patients who could not undergo an operation,” Dr. Litle states. Candi believes it’s helping her beat the odds. “I got to see my forth granddaughter born, which they said never would of happen, so I got to see that, I am not planning on checking out anytime soon,” says Candi.

 Dr. Litle says surprisingly there are not a lot of patients coming for this great option, in part because, perhaps, referring doctors, including lung specialists and primary care doctors, simply don’t know about the benefits of thermal ablation. If a patient is not a surgery Candidate, this should be considered.


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