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Lung Cancer Program

Ted Fitzgerald
Ted Fitzgerald, lung cancer survivor

Program Overview

Penn Medicine created a new level of lung cancer care by establishing the Center for Lung Cancer and Related Disorders in 1991. The program includes a group of leading specialists who have developed some of the most advanced medical treatments available today.

The Lung Cancer Program has led the way nationally for decades in understanding and treating lung cancer, mesothelioma and related disorders. Our comprehensive team of lung cancer experts incorporate surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy to deliver integrated medicine for complex management of both non-small cell and small cell lung cancer. 

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.

Conditions Treated by the Lung Cancer Program

There are two main forms of lung cancersmall cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer

Another cancer that can affect the lungs and chest is mesothelioma. Malignant mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer in which malignant cells are found in the lining of the chest or abdomen. It is most commonly caused by exposure to airborne asbestos particles.

Why Penn’s Lung Cancer Program Is Different

The Lung Cancer Program at the Abramson Cancer Center features nationally recognized experts with extensive experience in diagnosing and treating lung cancer and related disorders, as well as those at risk. Our experts from every specialty meet weekly to determine the best treatment plan for each individual.

Our team of dedicated lung specialists continue to be on the cutting-edge of designing novel treatments for lung cancer. Our thoracic surgeons see more lung cancer patients than any other hospital in the Delaware Valley, using new surgical procedures and therapies pioneered here at Penn Medicine to treat previously inoperable lung cancer. One investigational new technique, called TumorGlow®, helps surgeons see the entire tumor and detect cancer cells that could be missed during surgery. This procedure is currently being tested at Penn Medicine's Center for Precision Surgery.  

Additionally, the Center for Personalized Diagnostics (CPD), a joint initiative between Penn Medicine's Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Abramson Cancer Center, aims to uncover genetic mutations within a patient's own cancer that can allow for a more targeted and personalized "precision" treatment strategy. This means our pathologists work hand-in-hand with your medical oncologist to determine the best course of action for your lung cancer treatment, based on the genomic test results and your specific needs. Tissue is conveniently tested in-house here at Penn Medicine through the CPD, expediting the treatment plan and overall continuum of care for the patient.

Treatments and Services Offered by the Lung Cancer Program

The Lung Cancer Program uses different tests and procedures to uncover, diagnose and stage lung cancer. We treat both small cell and non-small cell lung cancer with innovative treatments and personalized plans, including:

Lung Cancer Research

The Lung Cancer Program is on the cutting-edge of designing novel treatments for lung cancer, mesothelioma and related disorders. Through our research program, we conduct important studies and ensure that the latest discoveries are immediately translated to better patient care. The knowledge gained allows us to better care for people with an elevated risk for lung cancer and those who have the disease itself.

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

  • Intraoperative molecular imaging for precision surgery
  • Combination chemotherapy/surgery/radiation for improved outcomes
  • Advanced molecular therapies, gene therapies, and vaccine trials for lung cancers
  • Cell manipulation to enhance immune response for lung cancer, and mesothelioma
  • 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