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Thoracic Oncology Program

The Thoracic Oncology Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital consists of a multidisciplinary team of experts dedicated to providing evaluation of and treatment for patients with a thoracic malignancy, including lung cancer, esophageal cancer, thymoma, or chest wall tumors. Patients in Connecticut and beyond have access to nationally recognized expert clinicians, who provide an organized, collaborative approach to cancer care, as well as the latest technologies and treatments. Our team consists of a collaboration of specialty physicians, including medical oncology, radiation oncology, thoracic surgery, pulmonary medicine, digestive diseases, pathology, diagnostic imaging, and nursing.

Our Approach

In addition to our expert clinicians, patients also receive comprehensive care to help with the physical, emotional, and psychological issues that are part of confronting cancer. Patients also benefit from the attention of the team's care coordinators, who make management of even the most detailed multidisciplinary treatment plan less complicated.

Our team is active in clinical research, and focuses on developing advances to care in areas of thoracic oncology where the standard treatment needs improvement and where the optimal treatment approach remains unclear. To provide the best care, most of our patients are enrolled in a clinical trial where they can receive innovative therapy for their advanced disease, including immunotherapy, which was first used in clinical trials at Smilow Cancer Hospital. 

Our Services

For diagnoses in which standard treatment is a well-accepted approach, patients are provided access to cutting-edge approaches to treatment delivery, such as minimally invasive surgery and radiation therapy treatment planning.

  • Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) is scheduled for the majority of all lung cancer patients in need of surgery at Smilow. A minimally invasive procedure, VATS is done through several small incisions, rather than a major chest incision, and requires no rib spreading.
  • Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy (MIE) is for patients diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The procedure utilizes instruments introduced into the body through very small incisions and a laparoscope, or tiny camera. MIE removes the esophagus and creates the reconstruction using small access incisions.
  • The da Vinci Robotic System for surgery provides patients with lung cancer with a less invasive surgical option, quicker recovery time, and decreased side effects. Smilow Cancer Hospital’s robotic technology, the da Vinci xi, is the most advanced robotic platform available. The benefits of robotic surgery include smaller incisions, greater surgical precision, less pain for the patient, and a quicker return to normal activity.
  • Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy is non-invasive technique introduced at Yale in 2007 to provide extremely high doses of radiation with a high level of accuracy to lung cancer tumors. This precise treatment also results in less radiation delivered to surrounding tissue and fewer side effects. It is available to patients with medically inoperable and node-negative non-small cell lung cancer after careful consideration by the treatment team. For more information on Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT), please refer to our SBRT Frequently Asked Questions.
  • The Pulmonary Intervention Program is a joint program between pulmonary/critical care medicine and thoracic surgery at Smilow Cancer Hospital. The collaboration offers several minimally invasive procedures using technology not available in most places for the comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of lung and thoracic diseases. Some of these procedures include confocal microscopy, whole lung lavage, and endobronchial ultrasound. Read more about the Pulmonary Intervention Program.
  • HALO Ablation Therapy is used for patients diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus to remove diseased or pre-cancerous tissue in the esophagus. Performed in conjunction with an upper endoscopy, ablation is a technique where tissue is heated to precisely destroy the diseased tissue in a highly controlled manner. 
  • The Lung Cancer Screening Program includes a comprehensive multidisciplinary team of pulmonologists, chest radiologists, thoracic surgeons, thoracic oncologists, tobacco treatment specialists, and nurse practitioners. Our goals are to provide exemplary lung cancer screening to individuals at risk for lung cancer, and to offer individualized, state-of-the-art evaluation to patients with lung nodules. The program provides:
    • Personalized lung cancer risk evaluation
    • Detailed discussion of an individual’s benefits and downsides of lung screening
    • Smoking cessation counseling and treatment for active smokers
    • Low dose screening CT scan or other tests, if indicated
    • CT scan review and interpretation by a dedicated and experienced team
    • Management recommendations of any findings from our expert panel
    • Continuity of care and ongoing monitoring

Read more in our Lung Cancer Frequently Asked Questions.

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