One of the distinguishing features of Cooper Cancer Institute’s Lung Cancer Center is its innovative Interventional Pulmonology program – the only resource of its kind in South Jersey. With two full- time, fellowship-trained interventional pulmonologists, the program gives patients with lung masses or abnormal chest X-rays fast access to the most advanced technology for accurate, timely diagnosis and staging,and it serves as an efficient gateway to Cooper’s comprehensive multidisciplinary lung cancer program.
“If a patient has an abnormal chest x-ray or CT, we can schedule a consultation within 24 to 48 hours with a call or email from the referring physician,” says Wissam Abouzgheib, MD, Director of the Section of Interventional Pulmonology, Division of Pulmonary Medicine. “When indicated, we can perform minimally invasive endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS)-guided bronchoscopy for biopsies within another 24 to 48 hours.”
Cooper is a pioneer in EBUS, a hybrid of ultrasound guidance and bronchoscopic visualization that enables real-time transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) to obtain tissue or fluid samples from structures in the mediastinum, lung parenchyma and surrounding lymph nodes without mediastinoscopy. The procedure also lends itself to fast, onsite pathologic evaluation.
“There is no incision and patients are home the same day,” Dr. Abouzgheib notes. “Most importantly, with timely diagnosis and staging, treatment planning and interventions can begin as soon as possible.”
With Cooper’s well-integrated, multidisciplinary team approach to lung cancer care, this transition from diagnosis to treatment is seamless, facilitated by a dedicated lung cancer nurse navigator who guides patients through the entire treatment process.
“Our multidisciplinary team includes an oncologic cardiothoracic surgeon, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, interventional and traditional pulmonologists, radiologists,and pathologists”. The team reviews cases at the Center’s weekly lung cancer conference to ensure the greatest depth and breadth of clinical expertise is involved in the treatment planning process. In addition to surgery and chemotherapy, Cooper’s Department of Radiation Oncology offers lung cancer patients access to standard radiation therapy as well as CyberKnife® radiosurgery.
For patients who have exhausted standard treatment options, Cooper offers access to novel medical and radiation oncology protocols through national clinical trials.
“We also have a board-certified palliative care specialist, genetic testing and counseling, and low-dose CT screening for patients at high risk of lung cancer,” Dr. Singh adds. With South Jersey’s only interventional pulmonology program, Cooper is the only facility performing palliative interventions to address lung cancer symptoms and complications such as dyspnea and pleural effusion.
“All of these advanced resources are available under one umbrella at Cooper,” Dr. Singh adds.