Our Thoracic and Lung Cancer Services

Led by Sidharta P. Gangadharan, MD, chief of thoracic surgery, with medical and radiation oncologists, Mark Huberman, MD, and Stuart M. Berman, MD, respectively, we diagnose and treat:

  • Lung cancer, both non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Thymic tumors (also called thymomas): these cancers start in the thymus, a key organ in the body's immune system that sits in front of, and just above, the heart; and other tumors in the mediastinum (the compartment between the lungs)
  • Other thoracic malignancies including tumors of the pleura (the layer of tissue that covers the lungs and the tissue that lines the chest wall); and other rarer types of chest cancer

We also treat or diagnose cancer that has metastasized to the lung or chest cavity. Metastases are cancer cells that have spread from an original or primary site to one or more locations or organs elsewhere in the body. For instance, cancer that begins in the colon (primary colon cancer) can metastasize to the lung.

New Lung Cancer Screening Program

BID Needham offers a new lung cancer-screening program for people who are, or were, heavy smokers. The program offers low-dose CT scans to find cancer early, even before people have symptoms. Screening CT scans have been shown to definitively reduce the risk of lung cancer mortality, and the disease is easiest to treat if physicians can find lung tumors in their earliest stages.

The American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, and the US Preventive Services Task Force support annual screenings for people at high risk for lung cancer. BID Needham offers best practices for CT scanning; that is, a low-dose scan to minimize the amount of radiation exposure.

Consider testing if you:

  • Are a current or former smoker who quit within the past 15 years
  • Are between the ages of 50 and 80
  • Have a history of smoking one pack a day for 20 years (or the equivalent; that is, one pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years)

Medicare, Medicaid and some private insurers do not yet cover the cost of this exam. This policy may change as the value of screenings impact the success of treatment. For now, patients at BID Needham pay $285 out-of-pocket for the screen, test results and follow-up consultation with a member of our thoracic team. To make an appointment, please call 617-632-8062.

Cancer Treatment

Treatment for lung and thoracic cancers depends on a host of factors:

  • The type of cancer you have
  • Whether the cancer is confined to one location (localized) or has spread to another area (metastasized)
  • Your anatomy and the shape and size of your tumor
  • Your own personal medical condition and fitness for surgery
  • Your response to therapy

We offer multidisciplinary therapy for the management of thoracic and lung cancers. This may involve a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. Depending on the surgery, we will coordinate care with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston where we offer:

  • Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery [VATS] or robotic-assisted thoracic surgery [RATS] to remove lung tumors. Both utilize a non-rib-spreading technique and smaller incisions compared to an open procedure. Patients report better pain control and faster recovery.
  • Minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) for certain patients with esophageal cancer. Cancer can occur anywhere in the esophagus, but most typically in the distal region, where the esophagus joins the stomach. Surgeons remove the cancer and reconstruct the esophagus using a part of the stomach. This minimally invasive approach features small incisions — in the abdomen and chest — without rib spreading, for better pain control and easier recovery compared to an open procedure.

We also offer chemotherapy and advanced intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) to treat lung cancer. IMRT employs small radiation beams of varying intensity that conform to tumor size, shape and location to kill cancer cells, while sparing nearby healthy tissue.

CyberKnife Expertise

Our team is among the most experienced in Massachusetts in using the CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery system to treat cancers in the chest. This option is available at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. CyberKnife provides very focused, high-intensity radiation, which can treat very small or hard-to-reach lesions.