Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Thoracic Surgery

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Lung Cancer

Esophageal Cancer

Thymoma

Lung Cancer

We consider excellence in surgery for lung cancer to be at the core of the mission of the Thoracic Surgery service at Stanford. You will be treated at Stanford by thoracic surgeons who are super-specialized in the management of lung cancer and have trained to treat this disease at some of the top thoracic surgery units in the country. We work together with oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, and radiologists at the Stanford Cancer Center to provide a comprehensive approach to therapy.  Drs. Joseph Shrager, Richard Whyte, Robert Merritt, and Chuong Huang are surgical lung cancer specialists who are specially trained to perform all of the different types of lung cancer resections that might be required – with the lowest risk and greatest chance of cure. Several studies have now demonstrated that risks are lower and cure rates higher when lung cancer procedures are performed by surgeons, such as those at Stanford, who are specialized in these techniques. We count among our surgeons some of the most experienced lung cancer surgeons in the San Francisco Bay Area and the country. More »

Esophageal Cancer

Although the incidence of esophageal cancer is steadily rising, few surgeons get extensive experience with surgical diseases of the esophagus. The Division of Thoracic Surgery has extensive experience with the management of cancer of the esophagus, including resection of the esophagus with reconstruction and restoration of swallowing, as well as endoscopic management of esophageal obstruction (laser and stenting). A multidisciplinary approach to patients with esophageal cancer, either through direct referral or through the GI Multidisciplinary Tumor Board, is utilized in selected patients where a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy may be helpful.

Thymoma

Thymomas are malignant tumors that arise in the thymus gland, typically in the anterior mediastinum.  Although considered malignant, most thymomas grow slowly and tend to spread only locally, by “seeding” cells into surrounding tissues and spaces such as the pleural space (the space surrounding each lung).  There is therefore often a very good chance of curing thymomas by either surgery alone or surgery followed by radiation.  We often proceed to remove these localized tumors without even the need for a preliminary biopsy.

More difficult thymic tumors that consist of frank carcinoma cells, and other thymic tumors that appear to invade surrounding structures on preoperative radiographic studies, are often best treated by administering preoperative chemotherapy or chemotherapy and radiation before surgical removal.  These cases are discussed at our multidisciplinary Thoracic Tumor Board which consists of specialists from oncology, radiation oncology, radiology, and pathology in addition to thoracic surgeons. Here, the optimal treatment plan can be designed with the combined input from all the appropriate experts.  These tumors require a preoperative needle biopsy or surgical biopsy to confirm the diagnosis before giving preoperative therapies. Surgery is then generally carried out if it is felt to be possible and there has been at least some shrinkage in response to the preoperative treatment.
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