Thoracic Cancers We Treat
The evaluation and treatment of patients with thoracic cancers can be complex and may require expertise in multiple disciplines throughout all phases of the patient’s illness.
Small-cell lung cancer
There are two stages of small-cell lung cancer: limited and extensive. Each type requires different treatment.
- In the limited stage, cancer is generally found in only one lung. There also may be cancer in nearby lymph nodes on the same side of the chest.
- In the extensive stage, cancer has spread beyond the primary tumor in the lung into other parts of the body.
Non-small-cell lung cancer
This type is much more common than small-cell lung cancer, accounting for about 85% to 90% of lung cancers. The three primary types of non-small-cell lung cancer are named for the type of cells in the tumor:
- Squamous cell carcinoma (also called epidermoid carcinoma) often begins in the bronchi near the middle of the lungs.
- Adenocarcinoma usually begins along the outer edges of the lungs. It is the most common type of lung cancer in people who have never smoked.
- Large-cell carcinoma are a group of cancers with large, abnormal-looking cells. These tumors may begin anywhere in the lungs and tend to grow quickly.
A carcinoid tumor is a rare type of tumor that grows slowly. Malignant tumors are cancers that often continue to grow and may spread to other areas of the body. Benign (noncancerous) tumors tend to grow more slowly and don’t spread. Carcinoid tumors are somewhere between malignant and benign tumors.
Mesothelioma is a rare kind of cancer that starts in the mesothelial cells. Mesothelial cells form a lining called the mesothelium. This lining protects the outer surface of internal organs such as the lungs, stomach, and heart. Tumors can start in any of these places.
Thymic tumors occur in the thymus, a small organ in the front of the chest under the breastbone, from the lower neck to above the level of the heart. The thymus makes a type of white blood cell called a T-lymphocyte.
T-lymphocytes are important to the immune system. They grow in the thymus and then travel to the lymph nodes, where they help protect the body against infections and cancer. Two main types of thymic cancer are treated:
- Thymoma is the most common type of tumor in the thymus. Thymomas begin in a type of cell called thymic epithelial cells. When a thymoma is found, the doctor usually determines whether it has spread beyond the thymus and, if so, how far. All thymomas are potentially cancerous. They often appear together with an immune or endocrine disease.
- Thymic carcinoma is a type of tumor that also develops from epithelial cells in the thymus, but this type of cancer is more aggressive. It can spread to nearby tissues and sometimes to other parts of the body.