Lung Metastases Diagnosis and Treatment

Cancers that commonly spread to the lungs include breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, germ cell tumors (such as testicular cancer), sarcoma, thyroid cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, and bladder cancer, as well as neuroblastoma and Wilm's tumor. Almost all types of cancer have the potential to metastasize, or spread, to the lungs. In these cases of metastases to the lung and pleura, breathing difficulties frequently occur. Fox Chase’ Cancer Center's lung cancer program includes a multidisciplinary team of lung specialists who are experienced at treating lung conditions, including metastases.

When cancer spreads from one part of the body to the lung, it does so through either the bloodstream or lymphatics. In these cases, detection may require Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computerized Tomography (CT) scans. Unless the cancer has spread only to the lung, surgery cannot effectively remove all of the cancer. Fox Chase Cancer Center oncologists generally treat these inoperable cancer patients with the latest chemotherapy or radiation treatments available.

Radiation Therapy

Stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body radiation therapy are precise ways to deliver high doses of radiation over a very short period of time (typically between one day and two weeks). Over the past several years, it has been used as an alternative to surgery for select patients with metastases to the lung.

This treatment requires sophisticated technology to account for movement of the tumors caused by breathing and to ensure precise targeting. Fox Chase radiation oncologists utilize the latest technologies, including 4-dimensional CT, real-time tumor tracking with CyberKnife, and image guidance with cone beam CT and helical CT in the room. This treatment is currently being offered through clinical trials at Fox Chase.

Palliative Care

External beam radiation therapy is commonly used to treat patients with metastatic lung cancer and metastases to the lung to offer palliative care (to relieve pain or open an airway to allow for easier breathing). In addition, Fox Chase physicians can open the airways by inserting a stent, using laser therapy or other debulking techniques to remove tumors from within the airway, or using brachytherapy if the tumor is blocking one of the airways. Brachytherapy is performed by inserting a thin tube, or catheter, containing radioactive material for a limited amount of time.

Fox Chase palliative care specialists provide a variety of pain management tools for patients with lung cancer. Palliative care is designed to offer relief to patients with cancer through symptom management, as well as pain management. While a cure may not be possible, our specialists provide comfort as well as the highest quality of life possible.

Clinical Research

Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center are internationally known for developing innovative lung cancer clinical trials to improve treatment for patients with metastases. Treatment is tailored depending on where the cancer originated.

For more information about lung cancer prevention, screening, and treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center, see our Lung Cancer Program.