Lung cancer treatment at Henry Ford Cancer Institute
Our thoracic cancer team, along with specialists from the Henry Ford Center for Lung Health, cares for more than 500 lung cancer patients every year. That expertise means you can be confident that you’re receiving the latest, proven treatments.
A team of specialists discusses each patient’s individual case. Then we develop a treatment plan specific to your health, your needs and your priorities. Your treatment for lung cancer may include:
- Interventional pulmonology: We have the only comprehensive bronchoscopy and interventional pulmonology program in Michigan. A bronchoscope is a fiber-optic tool that lets doctors see into your airways to diagnose or treat lung conditions. Using this tool, our doctors perform advanced interventional procedures to remove tumors or widen airways, even deep within the lung’s tiny passageways. Learn more about Henry Ford’s Interventional Pulmonology Center and Bronchoscopy Suite.
- Targeted therapy: Henry Ford’s Precision Medicine program enables us to routinely test patients who have advanced lung adenocarcinoma with next-generation sequencing (NGS) and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). We can detect genetic mutations that make certain types of cancer potential targets for innovative new cancer drugs, called targeted therapies.
- Immunotherapy: In 2015, the FDA approved the first two immunotherapy drugs, nivolumab (Opdivo®) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda®), for cancer. These drugs offer a valuable new class of medications to treat lung cancer. Henry Ford’s medical oncologists contributed to developing these new medications. We’re also engaged in the early development of a new treatment called adoptive immunotherapy that uses genetically modified human lymphocytes (immune cells) to fight cancer.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy remains an important therapeutic option for advanced lung cancer. We’ll assess the best treatment options for you and coordinate your care before or after surgery. When surgery is not an option, we sometimes use chemotherapy as part of combined therapy, along with radiation.
- Clinical trials: We operate one of Michigan’s most active lung cancer clinical trials programs. Our robust portfolio of clinical trials is exploring many new therapies, from Phase 1 to Phase 3 trials.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy kills cancer cells noninvasively by destroying their DNA (the cell’s control center) with radiation. At Henry Ford, we have been involved in developing the safest and most advanced treatments in radiation therapy. These techniques allow us to precisely target tumor cells and spare healthy cells anywhere in the body. Our cancer team uses the world’s first FDA-approved combined MRI and linear accelerator (ViewRay MRIdian® Linac), which can track lung tumors noninvasively using real-time MRI imaging. We also pioneered the first Edge® dedicated stereotactic (focused) radiation unit in North America. Henry Ford trained more than 200 doctors from around the world in using this treatment, so you can be confident in our expertise.
- Lung cancer surgery: We perform a full range of options for lung cancer surgery. Whenever possible, we use a minimally invasive approach. The smaller incision means you may have less pain and a faster recovery.
- Ablation techniques: Ablation is a procedure that cuts, burns, freezes, clots or destroys tumors. These treatments destroy cancer cells, stop bleeding and help you breathe better. We use minimally invasive ablation, which means you won’t have an open surgical incision.
Therapeutic techniques to ease lung cancer symptoms
Lung cancer can lead to problems with your breathing. It can block the airways or cause fluid buildup in the chest, which can result in collapsing all or part of your lung. We may be able to help, with treatments that can relieve symptoms and allow you to breathe easier. These procedures include:
- Airway management: We can perform operations without incisions. Instead, we access your lungs through your mouth to clear your airways. We use a variety of lasers and other tools to remove tumors (or other blockages) from the airways, control areas that are bleeding or repair injury to the airways from the cancer or treatments.
- Airway stenting: In addition to other airway management techniques, we also use airway stents. Stents are hollow tubes made of a variety of materials. They are used to open, or keep open, airways that were closed.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT): Along with brachytherapy, a local form of radiation therapy, our interventional team uses PDT to treat airways disease. PDT uses laser light along with a special drug to kill cancer cells without surgery. Learn more about photodynamic therapy.
Find out about lung cancer screening
Screening and early detection make a big difference in how effectively doctors can treat lung cancer.
People between 55 and 77 years old who are current or former tobacco smokers may be eligible to participate in a no-cost screening program. Screenings are covered by most insurance plans, with no copay or out-of-pocket expense to you. Learn more about the Lung Cancer Screening clinic.