48 posts tagged “Cancer”

CyberKnife, VATS + other surgical and less invasive treatments for lung cancer

Posted June 4th, 2018 by

Surgery is among the most common treatments for people with lung cancer. Let’s take a closer look at various types of surgery for lung cancer, as well as emerging non-surgical and minimally invasive treatments, like CyberKnife or “SBRT,” cryosurgery and “VATS.” Huh? Read on… we’ll explain.

Common types of lung cancer surgery

Before we explore some of the newer and less invasive treatments, let’s review the most common surgical treatments for lung cancer these days. These are the most frequently reported treatments on PatientsLikeMe (to access the links below, join the community or login):

  • Lung lobectomy – In this procedure, a surgeon removes the entire lobe of the lung that contains a tumor. The right lung has 3 lobes, and the left lung has 2 lobes. See members’ evaluations of this treatment here.
  • Lung wedge resection – This procedure involves removing a small, wedge-shaped portion of the lung (containing cancer), along with a certain amount of healthy tissue that surrounds the area. See treatment evaluations here.
  • Pneumonectomy – Also called “radical pneumonectomy,” this means surgically removing an entire lung. Read treatment reports here.
  • Lung segment resection – This procedure usually removes more than a wedge resection would but not the entire lobe of the lung. See treatment reports here.

Check out additional treatment evaluations for other specific treatments such as bronchial sleeve lobectomy and lobectomies by location in the body (see the “See also”section for details on upper, middle, lower, left and right lung lobectomies). Also, see forum discussions about lung cancer surgery and tips for recovering from surgery.

VATS, CyberKnife and cryosurgery

Now, let’s explore some of the newer and lesser-known or less invasive treatments. Keep in mind, not everyone is a candidate for these procedures (Cleveland Clinic outlines some reasons why — such as extensive spreading of cancer or prior chemotherapy treatment), so talk with your physician(s) and consider seeking a second opinion to find the treatments that will work best for you.

  • VATS – This stands for “video-assisted thorascopic surgery,” and some forms of it may also be “robotic-assisted.” Most lung cancer surgeries involve a thoracotomy (usually a 10-inch surgical incision). But VATS is like a laparoscopy for the lungs — a minimally invasive procedure where the surgeon uses tiny instruments and a fiber-optic video camera threaded through multiple half-inch incisions, rather than one large incision. Surgeons are increasingly using VATS whenever possible, but rarely for pneumonectomy or some types of resections that require a larger incision, Everyday Health reports.
  • Cryosurgery – This procedure involves inserting a bronchoscope through the trachea and into the lungs, and then using a probe to freeze tumor tissue and remove it. Patients with very advanced disease or poor lung function may be a candidate for this, if doctors determine they’re not a good fit for surgery.
  • CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery, or “SBRT” – Contrary to the sounds of something with “knife” and “surgery” in the name, CyberKnife treatment is not actually surgery. This is a type of radiation therapy that may be an alternative to surgery. The general name for this procedure is stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), and CyberKnife is a brand name of the technology that may be used (see this video for some more info).
  • During SBRT or CyberKnife treatment, highly focused beams to deliver radiation to a pinpointed area, with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue. A few PatientsLikeMe members have evaluated this treatment and discussed it in the forum. Some researchers say that SBRT is “a well-established treatment option for early stage non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors < 5 cm.”

One member with adenocarcinoma says she had five treatment sessions with SBRT. “The five treatments were given on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and on Monday, Wednesday of the following week. I had absolutely no problems with the radiation. The only minor problem was laying in a form that was molded to your body with your arms extended above your head for about 45 minutes.”

Have you had any of these procedures or do you have any questions about upcoming treatments? Join PatientsLikeMe to connect with and learn from other patients with lung cancer.

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Speaking out for Lung Cancer Awareness Month: “We’ve got to get rid of the stigma”

Posted November 14th, 2017 by

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re sharing members’ encounters with stigma and the automatic association with smoking. Lung cancer rates are increasing among nonsmokers, and some members of your community are raising their voices. One concern? The assumption that lung cancer only affects smokers could delay diagnosis and treatment for anyone (especially never-smokers) with symptoms. Some say that stigma also affects funding for lung cancer research.

Lung cancer rates rising among nonsmokers

As many as one in five people who die from lung cancer in the U.S. every year do not smoke or use any other form of tobacco, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). “In fact, if lung cancer in non-smokers had its own separate category, it would rank among the top 10 fatal cancers in the United States,” the ACS says.

Two studies presented at the 2015 World Conference on Lung Cancer showed that lung cancer rates among nonsmokers (especially women) have been increasing over the past decade.

The ACS says that avoiding or quitting tobacco use is still the most important way people can reduce their risk for lung cancer, but researchers have found several other causes or risk factors, including:

  • Radon gas
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Cancer-causing agents at work, such as asbestos and diesel exhaust
  • Air pollution
  • Gene mutations (as PatientsLikeMe Researcher Urvi recently pointed out, some of the latest clinical trials for lung cancer are looking at the role of genetic mutations)

Member Donna on stigma (even in doctors) and raising awareness

Member Donna (LiveWithCancer) was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2012 and outlived her poor prognosis. She says she’s trying to raise awareness of lung cancer among nonsmokers and advocate for more research as a way to honor the memory of those who’ve died.

“I was a former smoker but I had quit before I was diagnosed, and it is absolutely heartbreaking to me how many [non-smoking] people were missing the diagnosis because even doctors — many doctors — still have the attitude that smoking is the only cause of lung cancer,” she says. “I’ve lost 20-year-old friends to lung cancer that were never around cigarette smoke at all, even as secondhand smoke.”

Donna says that a person with an unexplained cough and a history of smoking, like herself, is more likely to get a CT scan checking for lung cancer than someone who has not smoked but has possible symptoms.

She has a friend who was in his 40s and was a cyclist who biked “many, many miles every week” and started experiencing unexplained symptoms.

“He never, ever smoked and so it took the doctor a long time to finally look at whether perhaps his lungs had an issue,” she says. “And on his medical records, his wife told me, they wrote ‘patient claims he never smoked.’ They could not even accept that he was telling the truth.”

Her hope in spreading awareness? “We’ve got to get rid of the stigma, first with medical personnel so that they won’t ignore symptoms, but then just among the public because people just … they’re just not nearly as sympathetic with somebody that’s got lung cancer as they are with somebody that’s got breast cancer or any other cancer, really.”

In the lineup of different kinds of cancer, smoking has the strongest link to lung cancer, but researchers say that it can cause at least 14 types of cancer (as well as heart disease). So concrete stereotypes like “smoking=lung cancer” and “lung cancer=smoking” are flawed — and there are many health reasons to quit tobacco use.

Member Jacquie on “putting stigma aside”

Member Jacquie (Jacquie1961), who’s part of the 2016-2017 Team of Advisors, has talked in the forum about how people’s first question when they hear “lung cancer” is “Did you smoke?” or “Do you smoke?”

While those questions used to make her mad, now she takes them in stride and tells people that she used to smoke but quit 17 years ago.

“First and foremost, you have to put that stigma aside and not be embarrassed because I wasn’t,” Jacquie says, noting that other environmental factors play a part in lung cancer risk, such as air pollution’s role in the surge of “non-smoking” lung cancer in China.

“I am pleased to see more attention lately on new breakthroughs for the treatment of lung cancer,” Jacquie mentioned in the forum in 2015. “I think that getting rid of the stigma that it is not just a smokers’ disease is the first step in getting attention.”

On PatientsLikeMe

Join a community of more than 7,000 people living with lung cancer. How are you observing Lung Cancer Awareness Month? What would you like the public to know about the disease and related stigma?

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