Lung and Esophageal Cancers

Treating Lung, Esophagel and all Chest Cancers with world-class surgical advancements

St. Vincent lung cancer doctors are board-certified thoracic specialists and surgeons. This group treats more lung and chest cancer cases in Indiana than any other medical group in the area. Another difference is that these Cancer Care physicians are at the forefront of developing minimally invasive procedures and treatment plans that are demonstrating a safer, quicker recovery and better outcomes.

St.Vincent Cancer Care - Mission in Motion

Richard Freeman, MD, CORVASC thoracic surgeon describes an advanced surgical tools study for detecting hard-to-reach lung nodules. 

Low dose CT Scan detects more lung cancers

If your doctor has told you your chest x-ray shows a “spot” on your lung (that spot is also called a pulmonary nodule), it may be an early warning sign of lung cancer. These spots are not necessarily cancerous, but red flags.

Lung cancer screening options – see the difference in the details

Chest x-ray versus Low-dose CT lung scan

If you smoke, Stop. Quitting the habit almost immediately helps your lungs begin to heal. Did you know? Within 2 weeks the heart attack risk beings to drop and the lungs start to work better.

Doctors will ask how many years and how often you smoke because the duration impacts your risk for developing lung cancer. [Your lung cancer death rate is reduced by 50% if you quit smoking 10 or more years ago.] The environmental exposure to asbestos and radon is also associated with lung cancer. St. Vincent Diagnostic Imaging Centers in 23 locations throughout Indiana offer low-dose CT lung scans for $99. This type of lung screening is considered the gold-standard. Call 317-338-3900 for more information or to schedule. A lung screening appointment takes less than 30 minutes.

Chest X-Ray vs. Low-dose CT Lung Scan

Lung mass was detected on the low-dose CT scan but not on the x-ray.  

Lung cancer affects more adults than any other type of cancer

CORVASC Thoracic Surgeons and St. Vincent affiliated general surgeons are an integral part of the St. Vincent Cancer Care Team, located on 8433 Harcourt Rd. on the St. Vincent Indianapolis campus. These doctors have been named "Top Doctors" by Indianapolis Monthly and U.S. News and World Reports. Using world-class procedures to biopsy and remove chest tumors, these thoracic surgeons are high-skilled using minimally invasive technologies to target the lung lesions and remove them, often without making an incision. These physicians are also key providers to the St. Vincent Heart and Vascular Center and lead the St. Vincent Multidisciplinary Lung Malignancy Committee. Our cancer patients directly benefit from their combined cardiovascular/oncology expertise.

The oncology nurses and patient navigators help coordinate care with the Cancer Center medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. They work closely with the Pulmonary Clinic and respiratory therapists, as well as, the Cancer Care Survivorship associates. St. Vincent has many Cancer Care resources to help our patients and their loved ones at every step of the journey.

Diagnosing and treating lung cancer

Precise diagnosis and staging the malignancy in the chest are important first steps in the total treatment plan. The bronchoscope is a tool to view the inside of the airways and lungs. St. Vincent surgeons use navigational bronchscopy to view the periphery of the lung and to visualize hard-to-reach lung tumors and extract the tissue samples to stage the disease. In some cases early-stage lesions can be removed all in one procedure. This type of expedited care improves recovery and enables patients to start the next step of their treatment plan sooner.

  • Endobronchial and esophageal ultrasound (EBUS) for difficult-to-view lesions in the lung, accessed through a flexible bronchoscope, camera probe, and ultrasound-aided navigation.
  • EBUS transbronical needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) to reach and test lymph glands that are outside of the normal breathing tube (bronchi) without making an incision in the chest.
  • Advanced bronchoscopic imaging (ABI) and Electromagnetic navigation diagnostic bronchoscopy (ENB) are used to zero in on the tumor and stage the cancer. These procedures are part of the St. Vincent thoracic surgical suite.
  • Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) includes a small video camera and tiny surgical instruments inserted in the chest cavity through very small incisions. The thoracoscope is a computer-aided navigation system that maps the operative area so that the surgeon can target the tumor and minimize the impact on healthy tissue. This procedure is the optimum blending of surgical expertise and computerized, robotic technology.
  • Utilizing PET scans and CT scans in combination with surgical techniques to pinpoint lung nodules.

After the tumor (nodule) is removed, a personalized cancer treatment plan includes active surveillance and follow-up care, as well as, Supportive Services & Survivorship Programs.

Other types of chest cavity cancers

St. Vincent thoracic specialists also specialize in surgically removing tumors in the trachea, chest wall (sarcomas), pericardium, thymus and esophagus. Esophageal cancer treatment expertise is a multi-disciplinary team effort at St. Vincent. These cancers may be diagnosed by ear, nose and throat specialists, gastrointestinal specialists or thoracic surgeons. Long-term reflux can change the cells at the lower end of the esophagus. This condition is called Barrett's esophagus and if untreated, the risk of developing esophageal cancer increases dramatically. Thoracic surgeons are using video-assisted thoracoscopic (VATS) surgical techniques for some of these cases.

To learn more about any of the cancers described in this section, go to the St. Vincent Health Information Library.