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Thoracic Cancer

Thoracic cancer covers a variety of cancers that start developing within the chest cavity, like the lungs, thymus and windpipe. Lung cancer is the most common form of thoracic cancer we treat, with about 220,500 new cases of lung cancer in the United States each year. Thoracic cancer can also affect organs near the chest, such as the heart and esophagus.

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Cancer care for your chest, lungs + esophagus

Did you know that lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer among all people in the United States? On a positive note, it's very treatable when caught early on. A combination of proactive lung cancer screenings and lifestyle changes (quitting smoking) can dramatically drop the risk of lung cancer before it ever becomes a big problem.

If you or a loved one were recently diagnosed with thoracic cancer or referred to our program for an assessment, you're probably wondering what comes next. We're committed to doing the work to make healthcare work better for you, from screening to treatment and recovery.

nurse outside a bay of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
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Our team has your entire chest care covered when you're living with a malignancy, such as:

Esophageal cancer
Indeterminate lung nodule
Lung cancer
Thymus cancer
Tracheal tumors


While we tailor each thoracic cancer treatment path to a person's unique needs, everyone's care begins with an evaluation. If initial testing reveals nodules, or "spots," on your lungs, we'll work with our lung nodule specialists to provide you with a prompt evaluation.

It's important to note that nodules can be cancerous or noncancerous. Our experts are committed to providing you with answers as soon as possible so we can properly plan for your healthcare.

Lung cancer screening

Lung cancer screenings help us identify cancer at its earliest stages. In fact, the American Lung Association reports that lung cancer screenings find 80% of lung cancers while they're still in their earliest and most treatable stages.

Lung cancer can be passed down through families, so it's a good idea to look into your family's health history. Lung cancer screenings can help your doctor identify abnormalities before they become cancerous and begin to cause symptoms. 



We're here to treat your whole health, not simply one part. That's why our brightest minds in the field have come together to meet you where you are with your care needs, including our:

  • Thoracic surgeons
  • Medical and radiation oncologists
  • Radiologists
  • Medical and interventional pulmonologists
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Nutritionists
  • Experts in pain management 
  • Palliative care experts 

Treatment options are based on your specific condition and how far it has advanced. Your doctor will talk you through whether surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of treatments will work best for you.


Surgery is often the first step in treating thoracic cancers, especially if they're detected early on. Whenever possible, our experienced surgeons use minimally invasive techniques like video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) to reduce your pain, risk and recovery time.

Sometimes, surgery is enough to eliminate the tumors. For more advanced cases, surgery is often followed by radiation and chemotherapy.

Radiosurgery + radiation therapy

People with early-stage lung cancer who aren't candidates for traditional surgery may be eligible for stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). This non-invasive treatment uses large doses of hyper-targeted radiation to kill cancer cells while preserving healthy tissue.

Traditional radiation therapy combined with surgery is another approach to treating thoracic cancers. 


Chemotherapy and other "targeted" cancer-fighting medications can be used alone or as part of a larger treatment plan with other therapies. It's often prescribed to reduce tumor size prior to a surgical resection (removing all or a portion of the lung) or to prevent tumors from returning after surgery.

Our doctors use advanced molecular profiling to determine if targeted anti-cancer drugs — which usually have fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy — are right for you.

Anasuya Gunturi MD, PhD talks with patient at Lowell General Hospital's Women's Wellness Center clinic appointment.
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From regular office visits to inpatient stays, find the healthcare you need and deserve close to home.

Greg Schumaker, MD (Medical Director at Lowell General Hospital's ICU, Section Chief of Critical Care, Adult Sleep Medicine) talking to a family member in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Our doctors + care team

Meet the doctors and care team devoted to supporting you every step of the way along your path to better health.

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