Expert Care for People with Lung and Esophageal Cancers and Other Chest Tumors

Thoracic cancers—those arising in the chest, such as cancers of the lung (including small cell and non-small cell lung cancers), esophagus, thymus, and mediastinum—are among the most complex tumors to treat. The best care you can receive for these cancers is based on the latest medical research findings and provided by an interdisciplinary team of doctors with specialty training. You can find that team at John Theurer Cancer Center, part of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

Our team will carefully evaluate your health and match you with the most effective treatment, based on the stage and biology of your cancer and your personal preferences. We know the treatment of thoracic cancers can be complex, and we support you every step of the way.

A Team Approach to Thoracic Cancer Care

Your care team includes thoracic surgeons; thoracic medical oncologists who oversee chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and other medical treatments; radiation oncologists; pathologists; radiologists; nurses; social workers; and others with expertise in the care of people with thoracic cancers. They meet regularly at Tumor Boards to discuss your case, pooling their knowledge to customize a plan of care just for you. Your team works together to make sure your experience with us is a positive one. We don’t just care for you, but about you. In fact, according to Press-Ganey surveys, 99 percent of our patients report satisfaction with their care.

Get Your Care from the Leaders in Robotic Thoracic Surgery

Our thoracic surgeons are leaders in robotic video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) and are trained to perform the most complex surgeries, such as robotic esophagectomy—a very complicated procedure best left to specially trained thoracic surgeons. They are also experts in complex airway cases and surgery for benign esophageal disorders. Compared with traditional open surgery, minimally invasive surgery results in smaller incisions, less pain after surgery, a shorter hospital stay, and a faster return to your normal activities, so you can get back sooner to doing the things you enjoy.

Lung cancer outcomes at John Theurer Cancer Center are exceptional and much better than the rest of the country: after lobectomy for lung cancer, our average overnight hospital stay is half the national average (two versus four days), with a 0 percent mortality rate (2016 and 2017).

Our Thoracic Oncology Specialists

Thoracic Cancer Treatment Based on the Latest Research Advances

Your thoracic cancer team will tailor a treatment plan that meets your needs. We may combine surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or radiation therapy, choosing the approaches that give you the best chance of a successful outcome. We also offer immunotherapy—one of the most recent advances in thoracic cancer care, which involves boosting the power of your immune system against cancer—and precision medicine, which targets the molecular abnormalities fueling your tumor’s growth.

Robotic surgery
If your cancer is operable, we try whenever possible to remove it using minimally invasive robotic surgery. Our thoracic surgeons perform more than 80 percent of procedures, including lobectomies (removal of lobes of the lungs) and esophagectomies (removal of esophageal tissue), using minimally invasive approaches that result in smaller scars and a faster recovery. Many lung surgeries in the United States are performed by general surgeons. At John Theurer Cancer Center, board-certified thoracic oncology surgeons perform these procedures—and they do so two at a time, combining their expertise to perform your operation.

The latest anticancer drugs
We’ll also study your tumor to identify genetic mutations and learn about the molecular signals involved in your cancer’s growth. We use the results of these tests to match you with targeted therapies. This “precision medicine” approach ensures that you receive the therapy that is best suited for the biology of your cancer. As a matter of fact, studies led by John Theurer Cancer Center have demonstrated the impact in the real world of identifying these mutations, since targeting them could be more effective than conventional chemotherapy.

Super-targeted radiation therapy
Our Radiation Oncology Division offers every type of radiation therapy available—including image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), in which take images before and during your treatment to see how you are responding, “tweaking” the radiation we give you to ensure you receive only what you need. We also offer stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT)—the use of focused, highly precise (within one millimeter) high-dose radiation given over fewer sessions than conventional radiation therapy.

Clinical trials
You may have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial of a novel treatment. We have a robust portfolio of clinical trials, which often offer the most hope for people with metastatic and recurrent lung and esophageal tumors. Your care team will let you know if you may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial.

Are You Eligible for a Clinical Trial?

Our thoracic oncologists are actively involved in clinical trials assessing new treatments that have the potential to be more effective than existing therapies. We are also collaborating with investigators at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center on translational “bench-to-beside” research, speeding promising findings of laboratory studies to clinical trials, where they can be evaluated in our patients.

We have a robust program for Phase I clinical trials—the earliest stage of a new drug’s assessment in patients. In fact, John Theurer Cancer Center has the highest number of Phase I clinical trials in New Jersey. You may be able to receive an innovative therapy, including investigational drugs that other centers do not offer. More than 100 people with operable and metastatic lung cancer each year enroll in Phase I clinical trials using novel treatments.

Catching Lung Cancer Earlier

Spiral CT scanning can detect many lung cancers in their earlier, more curable stages. If you are at increased risk for lung cancer due to a history of smoking, you may be eligible for lung cancer screening. John Theurer Cancer Center is designated as a Lung Cancer Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance. If CT scanning shows a suspicious nodule, we can quickly connect you with our lung specialists for follow-up care. Contact us for more information and to schedule an appointment.

Our Lung Cancer Screening Program