Lung Cancer Program

At Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center, researchers and clinicians have led the way nationally for decades in understanding and treating lung cancer, mesothelioma and related disorders. Today, there's more hope than ever for those who face lung cancer and related disorders. By putting our experience to work, we offer the best possible treatment outcomes.

The two main types of lung cancer are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer in which malignant cells are found in the lining of the chest or abdomen.

Our lung team also cares for those with cancer of the trachea, mediastinum, and other areas that make up the lung or pulmonary system. Penn thoracic lung surgeons oversee our Lung Nodule Clinic and care for those with cancer of the esophagus.

We also treat those with disorders related to lung cancer such as asbestosis and coal workers' pneumoconiosis.

Our Lung Cancer Program provides:

  • Nationally recognized experts with extensive experience in diagnosing and treating lung cancer and related disorders, as well as those at risk
  • Multidisciplinary evaluation
  • The region's most advanced testing for precise diagnosis and staging
  • Advanced treatments and technologies
  • Innovative clinical trials
  • The backing of a major research program with immediate translation to patient care

What Sets the Penn Lung Cancer Program Apart?

Our interdisciplinary Lung Cancer Program was one of the first of its kind. We created a new level of lung cancer care when we established the Center for Lung Cancer and Related Disorders in 1991. The Center has assembled a group of leading specialists in this field who have developed some of the most advanced medical treatments available today.

Our program is distinguished in a number of ways including:

  • Dedicated specialists who evaluate and treat only lung disease.
  • We are ranked among the top ten by U.S. News and World Report for the care of respiratory disorders.
  • Interventional pulmonologists who are using a new minimally invasive technology, called endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA), as a less invasive way to stage lung cancer.
  • Thoracic surgeons who see more thoracic patients than any other hospital in the Delaware Valley.
  • The development of new surgical procedures to treat previously inoperable lung cancer.
  • Surgeons who are experts in evaluating the risks and benefits of minimally invasive procedures versus open procedures, so that you can make the decision that's best for you.
  • A rate for lung conserving procedures that is among the best in the country, ensuring that you will retain the highest quality of life possible.
  • We are a major center for lung cancer clinical trials, allowing us to provide some of the newest and best therapies to our patients.

A Premier Research Program

Our prominent lung cancer, mesothelioma and related disorders research program is conducting important studies and ensuring that the latest discoveries are immediately translated to better patient care. The knowledge gained through our research allows us to better care for people with an elevated risk for lung cancer and those who have the disease itself.

Shaping the Future Cancer Care

We continue to be on the cutting-edge of designing novel treatments for lung cancer, mesothelioma and related disorders.

Our investigators are conducting exciting Phase I/II trials including:

  • Combination chemotherapy/surgery/radiation for mesothelioma
  • Autologous tumor vaccine for lung cancer and mesothelioma
  • PDT for treating currently untreatable tumors
  • Cell manipulation to enhance immune response for lung cancer, and mesothelioma
  • Lung gene research including:
  • Effect of gene expression on lung cancer formation/inhibition
  • Effect of demethylating drugs on inactivated gene in lung cancer
  • Lung cancer survival as a function of gene status and vascular invasion
  • A Tobacco and Environmental Carcinogenesis Program that is studying the relationships between environmental exposures and cancer with a focus on prevention of tobacco and asbestos-related cancers including lung cancer, head and neck cancer and mesothelioma.
  • A Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC) whose mission is to translate discoveries in basic neuroscience, pharmacology, genetics, and behavioral science to improve treatment for nicotine dependence.

Our Team Approach

When diagnosed with lung cancer, mesothelioma or a related disorder, patients need to have complete confidence in their medical team.

The program has dedicated specialists who evaluate and treat only lung disease. The team includes a wide variety of experts including:

  • Thoracic oncology surgeons who specialize in removing lung tumors
  • Medical oncologists who treat lung diseases with chemotherapy
  • Radiologists who use a variety of imaging techniques to check for the presence of tumors
  • Pulmonologists with extensive experience in diagnosing lung diseases
  • Pathologists who are experts in evaluating lung tissue

Your team also includes:

  • Advanced practice nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
  • Patient support specialists: Our patient support specialists are experts in navigating complex health care situations. They serve as a consistent point of contact and a reliable source for support and direction for you and your family.
  • Cancer counselors: Our cancer counselors work exclusively with you and your family. They are available to provide individual, couples or family counseling. Our team includes a psychologist and psychiatrist who specialize in the issues that individuals with cancer face. Our cancer psychiatrist is available for counseling, prescribing medications and consulting with your team of Penn cancer specialists.
  • Registered dietitians: Our registered dietitians are available to provide nutritional counseling for individuals being treated for cancer at the Cancer Center. Our dietitians specialize in cancer nutrition and provide information based on sound nutritional therapies.