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As November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to get educated on how the disease is treated. The team at NorthShore's Kellogg Cancer Center, including Dr. Thomas Hensing, NorthShore Thoracic Oncologist, have worked to improvement and personalize the treatment process using the latest research and technology. Dr. Hensing discusses below:
How has the way lung cancer is treated changed over the years? We are firmly in the era of personalized medicine when it comes to lung cancer management. Treatment options are tailored to the individual patient, as well as the biological characteristics of their tumor. The most significant advances have come from the combination of improved molecular diagnostic capabilities, an increase in the number of targeted therapies and the development of safer and more accurate minimally invasive surgical techniques. Can you tell us about some of the diagnostic testing NorthShore has utilized to diagnose lung diseases?We have expanded our molecular diagnostic capabilities to help guide treatment decision making. We are focused both on identifying potential genetic targets, as well as patients with tumors that are likely to respond to an immunotherapy-based approach. How do you determine the best course of treatment for a patient after diagnosis?We present our patients in a weekly tumor board meeting so that our team can review all of the diagnostic information and tailor an individualized treatment recommendation. We firmly believe that a tumor board discussion is essential in this era personalized cancer care. How does the treatment and recovery process differ for patients who receive non-surgical therapies vs those who receive surgery?Recovery from treatment will depend on a number of factors. What is most important to understand, however, is that our minimally invasive surgical capabilities have significantly improved recovery time and allow patients to get back to their lives as soon as possible. What are some of the non-surgical therapies NorthShore offers to treat lung cancer? In addition to novel, targeted medical therapies, NorthShore also has access to focused radiation-, as well as Interventional Radiology-based targeted or ablative therapies. These capabilities have increased the overall options for patients who have localized lung cancers. What research (clinical trials) is taking place at NorthShore in regards to advanced therapy for lung cancer?At NorthShore, our Thoracic Oncology research program focuses on two main areas, including clinical trials that are evaluating novel treatment approaches, as well as translational research projects that leverage our extensive clinical informatics and tumor biobank infrastructure. We work in collaboration with a number of academic research institutions in the Chicagoland area and beyond. Are there any innovative procedures or new technology that the team at NorthShore is beginning to utilize to better treat lung diseases?Lately our focus has been on novel immunotherapy approaches, that include both currently available therapies, as well as gaining access to clinical trials evaluating newer immunotherapy strategies for our patients. We have also focused extensively on improving the safety of treatment with this class of medications through extensive education and training of our medical staff.