Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. Cancer cells are often shaped differently from healthy cells, and they reproduce rapidly, forming tumors, despite signals sent from the body to stop.
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The human genome contains many types of genes that control cell growth. When these genes have an error in their DNA, they may not work properly. Cancer can develop if many gene errors occur.
After your cancer diagnosis, everything in life may suddenly feel out of control. Your initial thoughts may be "How could this have happened to me?" and "How will I get through this?"
The goals of cancer treatment are to get rid of the cancer; prevent it from recurring; prolong life, and, if necessary, provide palliation, or easing of symptoms to improve quality of life.
Newer tests and cancer treatments have added many months and years to people's lives. As a result, cancer is increasingly viewed as a long-term chronic illness.
Making careful food choices will help support your immune system's fight against cancer. The foods you choose to eat during treatment will vary according to any side effects you may have.
Thoracic Oncology Program Overview
The Thoracic Oncology Program is lead by board certified physicians who have the expertise and experience to evaluate, diagnose, and treat lung cancer. The Sebastian River Medical Center’s dedicated Thoracic Oncology team offers patients and physicians the most current medical treatment available. The Thoracic Oncology team takes a multi-disciplinary approach to treating lung and other thoracic cancers. This process begins with regular oncological conferences designed to evaluate every aspect of a patient’s history. Thoracic surgeons, pulmonary doctors, medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists and primary care doctors participate in these round-table forums in order to create the best treatment plan of care for each patient. Patients receive on going support from skilled and compassionate nurses, social workers, and other health care professionals whose focus is treating patients with cancer. This team approach has been shown to provide patients with better and more timely treatment.
Our Thoracic Oncology Program offers our patients the latest treatments available provided by a dedicated team of physicians.
At SRMC, we’re committed to providing comprehensive health care services to our community.
Lung cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the lungs.
Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably, a mass of tissue forms. This is called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors. They can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.
There are two types of lung cancers:
- Non-small cell lung cancer—generally grows and spreads more slowly (more common form)
- Small cell lung cancer—generally grows more quickly and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body
In its initial phase, lung cancer may cause no symptoms in patients. Symptoms that can occur beyond the initial phase include:
- chronic cough
- coughing up blood
- weight loss
- loss of appetite
- shortness of breath
- fever with our a know reason
- repeated bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia
- chest pain
These symptoms can be associated with other lung problems so a person should visit their doctor for an evaluation.
During your initial visit your physician may evaluate the following:
- family history
- history of smoking
- exposure to environmental and occupational hazards
The physician may also request that you have a chest x-ray and other test completed. If lung cancer is suspected, a biopsy of the tissue may need to be performed.
Once lung cancer is found, staging tests are done to find out if the cancer has spread.
Surgery involves removing the tumor and nearby tissue. Lymph nodes may also need to be removed. The type of surgery depends on the location of the tumor, such as:
- Segmental or wedge resection—removal of only a small part of the lung
- Lobectomy —removal of an entire lobe of the lung
- Pneumonectomy—removal of an entire lung
Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This may also be used to relieve symptoms, such as shortness of breath. Radiation may be:
- External—directed at the tumor from a source outside the body (more common for treating lung cancer)
- Internal—radioactive materials placed into the body in or near the cancer cells
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. This may be given in many forms, including pill, injection, and via a catheter. Chemotherapy is often used to kill lung cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.
The Patient Experience
Mary Winfield admits it was a shock when she learned she had lung cancer. The Barefoot Bay resident hadn't smoked in over 35 years and thought it was just an infection when she began feeling excruciating pain.
Now, almost exactly a year after being treated by the Thoracic Oncology Team at Sebastian River Medical Center, Ms. Winfield says she feels great, and everyone says she looks good as she approaches her 80th birthday.
Our Thoracic Oncology Program gives patients the benefits of collaboration between different medical specialties and the latest medical options to create the best possible treatment plan. Ms. Winfield's case was handled by several SRMC physcians, including Peter Seirafi, MD, Surgical Director; Michael Layton, MD, Medical Director; Nicola Ally, MD, radiation oncologist; and Noor Merchant, MD, medical oncologist.
"My doctors are very caring and wonderful physcians," Ms. Winfield says. " Dr. Seirafi explained everything prior to the surgery, so I knew what to expect. My anesthesiologist, Achilles Stachtiaris, MD, told me about the medicines they would be using during the surgery, so I felt comfortable going into the procedure."
For more information about the Thoracic Oncology Program at Sebastian River Medical Center, please call (722) 388-4388.