Thoracic (Lung) Oncology Clinic
The Thoracic Oncology Clinic at Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute meets the special needs of people with tumors in the thorax (within the chest cavity). The most common cancer of this type is lung cancer, and we provide a comprehensive range of diagnostic and treatment resources for it.
Types of lung cancer treated
MMC Cancer Institute treats all cancers. The most common types of lung cancer we treat are:
- Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
- Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC)
- Carcinoid tumors (a slow-growing type of tumor usually found in the gastrointestinal system, and sometimes in the lungs or other sites)
- Mesothelioma (a tumor that may or may not be cancerous affecting the lining of the chest or abdomen)
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A Multidisciplinary Approach to Cancer Care
The Thoracic Oncology Clinic uses a multidisciplinary model to plan the care of patients with thoracic cancers. Our team of specialists meets weekly to review and discuss individual cases. This team includes specialists in pulmonary medicine (treating diseases of the lung), radiology, thoracic surgery, pathology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, interventional radiology, and palliative care. Non-physician members of the team include the Thoracic Oncology Nurse Navigator, research nurses, tobacco treatment specialist, oncology dietitian, oncology social worker, and the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator.
We believe our team approach benefits the patient in two important ways:
- The accurate diagnosis and staging of lung cancer often requires consultation with several different specialists. This can mean scheduling and attending multiple appointments over several days or weeks before treatment can begin. At the MMC Cancer Institute Thoracic Oncology Clinic, we can often arrange all necessary consultations on the same day, in one location. Not only is this more convenient for our patients, but it can also expedite the process of diagnosis and staging so that treatment can begin sooner. In fact, our goal is to ensure that our patients move from presentation of a suspected lung cancer diagnosis to treatment within 30 days or less.
- Another advantage of our multidisciplinary approach to lung cancer care is the weekly conference which is attended by the entire Thoracic Oncology Clinic team. Conference is used to present individual cases, review diagnostic procedures, discuss staging and treatment options, and collaborate on the best plan of care for each patient. The multidisciplinary group forms a consensus recommendation that is tailored to each individual. We then present the treatment plan to the patient at his or her clinic consultation. The weekly conference also serves as a forum to discuss clinical trials, advances in lung cancer care, and quality improvement measures which may impact future lung cancer care.
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Thoracic Oncology Clinical Navigator Program
The Thoracic Oncology Clinical Patient Navigator serves as a key member of the team. A patient typically meets the Navigator when he or she is newly diagnosed with lung cancer. This diagnosis can be devastating and often leaves patients and families feeling overwhelmed, hopeless and confused. Initial contact with the Navigator assures these patients and families that they have an advocate and an easily accessible source of information and support. The Navigator helps to ensure that patients obtain an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment in a timely and efficient manner. The Navigator also educates patients regarding the diagnosis of lung cancer and its treatment. Well-educated patients usually have a greater sense of control and are able to make fully informed decisions about their care.
Perhaps most importantly, the Navigator ensures that patients know they are not alone, and remains available to them throughout their cancer journey. After the patient's initial clinic appointment, ongoing access to the services of the Navigator is provided free of charge. Patients may call or visit the Clinical Patient Navigator as often as needed for support, information and assistance throughout the course of their treatment and into their survivorship.
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Patient Screening and Diagnostic Resources
MMC Cancer Institute offers a comprehensive array of leading-edge diagnostic imaging methods, including combined anatomic and metabolic imaging, to aid in the detection of lung and other thoracic cancers and to monitor treatment effectiveness. Our capabilities include:
- Three magnetic resonance imaging scanners
- Four 64-slice computed tomography (Cat) scanners
- PET/Cat (integrated positron emission tomography and Cat)
- Nuclear Medicine
- Vascular and Interventional Radiology
MMC Cancer Institute's Thoracic Oncology Clinic offers state-of-the-art diagnostic resources and access to specialists trained in the latest techniques and technology for diagnosing and staging cancer, including:
- Endobronchial ultrasonography
- Electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy (EMN)
- Cat-guided needle biopsy
- Video-assisted thoracoscopic biopsy
Image-guided biopsies are supported by an on-site radiology nursing service that provides sedation, procedural support to the patient, and post-procedure recovery. Our extensive Picture Archiving and Communications System serves as a regional resource that enables rapid image sharing and interpretation, helping to speed diagnosis.
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MMC Cancer Institute’s Thoracic Oncology Clinic offers access to the region's most comprehensive and advanced array of medical, surgical, radiation oncology and interventional radiology treatment options. Multidisciplinary conferences leading to appropriate consults and treatment recommendations take place on a weekly basis to meet the individualized needs of thoracic oncology patients. Our comprehensive array of state-of-the art treatment options includes the following:
- Thoracic Surgery
- Video-assisted thoracic surgery (a minimally invasive way to access the chest)
- Wedge resection (removing a small section of one lung)
- Segmentectomy (removing a segment, or part of a lobe, of one lung)
- Lobectomy (the most common type of lung cancer surgery entailing removal of entire lobe of one lung)
- Sleeve resection (removing a part of the airway with or without the adjoining lung and reattaching the remaining ends to preserve lung tissue and avoid a larger resection such as a pneumonectomy)
- Pneumonectomy (removal of lung)
- 3D Conformal External Beam Radiation Therapy
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
- Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
- High Dose Rate Brachytherapy
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Chemotherapy/targeted therapy
- Clinical trials providing access to novel cancer treatments
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
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As an indication of its commitment to evidence-based, high quality care, the MMC Cancer Institute Thoracic Oncology Clinic published the first edition of its Lung Cancer Quality Report on Clinical Outcomes. This edition provides a review of our current Lung Cancer Program and related services, and highlights clinical outcomes data which can serve as a resource for physicians and their patients. A copy of the guide is available for review and downloading here.
We believe our clinical outcomes in the management of thoracic malignancies speak for themselves, but our commitment to high quality, state-of-the-art care does not stop there. We continually strive to improve the quality of care for our patients through ongoing review of Thoracic Oncology Clinic data compared to national benchmarks, quality improvement measures, educational programs, and comprehensive support services.
Why Choose Us for Lung Cancer Care
- Exceptionally coordinated care, ensuring that we carefully guide patients through diagnosis and staging procedures from the moment they are referred to MMC with a suspicious finding
- A truly multidisciplinary team approach that brings together the expertise of all the appropriate specialists who collaborate on each patient's plan of care
- A full range of advanced diagnostic and treatment resources in one close-to-home location
- The expertise of thoracic surgeons who perform the most lung cancer procedures in Maine, a depth of experience that qualifies MMC as a national center of excellence in this type of care
- The option for minimally invasive surgery, when appropriate, which means faster healing, less pain, shorter hospital stays and improved ability to tolerate subsequent chemotherapy
- A demonstrated track record of excellent outcomes when compared to national benchmarks
- A wide array of support and educational resources that address the emotional and psychosocial needs of patients with lung cancer
- Outstanding inpatient and outpatient care from a large complement of oncology-certified nurses at the first acute-care hospital in Maine to earn Magnet designation, the highest honor an organization can receive for nursing care