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Why choose UCLA Health for lung cancer care?
Lung cancer specialists at UCLA Health provide the highest standard of care. When you come to us, you’ll find:
Multispecialty team: When you select UCLA Health, a team of top experts in lung cancer treatment meets to review your health. We draw on our expertise in several specialties to develop a personalized lung cancer care plan that meets your needs. You’ll have some of the world’s most experienced lung cancer specialists behind you.
Precision medicine: Our approach differs from most other medical centers because we use precision medicine to deliver targeted treatments. Through this approach, we evaluate each tumor’s specific genetic factors. We also consider your lifestyle and health history to personalize each treatment plan. Learn about precision medicine at UCLA Health.
Nationally recognized program: As a designated National Cancer Institute (NCI) comprehensive cancer center, we maintain the highest standards of excellence in patient care, research, and treatments. We’ve consistently received high rankings from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. U.S. News & World Report ranks us among the top 5 medical centers in the country for pulmonology and lung surgery.
Access to innovative research and clinical trials: UCLA Health is a member of several nationwide cancer research groups, and we are a designated Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in lung cancer. As leaders in lung cancer research, our experts pioneer revolutionary treatments. If you’re eligible, you can participate in clinical trials for promising new therapies to treat lung cancer.
Convenient care: We offer telehealth options and virtual visits to make care more convenient for you. Our experts also provide healthcare services at locations throughout Southern California, including more than 20 locations offering cancer care. Working as a team, our physicians provide you with the best lung cancer care plan, no matter where you are.
Expert second opinion: Oncology specialists offer a second opinion for patients already receiving care from other physicians or institutions, even from long distance or out-of-state locations.
Every person diagnosed, regardless of the type of lung cancer, has their own unique challenges. That’s why our team designs every care plan around your specific needs and health. Using the most advanced testing, imaging, and treatments, we tailor your care and offer support at every step. Our services include:
Comprehensive lung screening
We focus on finding lung cancer at its earliest stages. Our pulmonary and thoracic physicians use the latest imaging techniques to detect lung nodules (spots) in patients who are at risk for developing lung cancer. This thorough screening process allows us to deliver a diagnosis as early as possible so treatments will be more effective.
Precision medicine to plan lung cancer treatment
Our experience and expertise help us identify cancer quickly and accurately. We offer the newest tests and procedures to diagnose and determine the type of cancer and stage of disease.
UCLA Health specialists use precision medicine to tailor your treatment plan. We provide molecular testing (biomarker testing) to spot changes in the tumor’s DNA and understand its genetic makeup.
Using the results of biomarker testing, along with information about your overall health, family history and lifestyle, we identify the best treatment for you. The precision medicine approach guides us to the most effective lung cancer treatment plan.
Team approach to treating lung cancer
At UCLA Health, we meet weekly as the Thoracic Oncology Program (TOP) tumor board — a group of expert oncology physicians from different specialties. We review and discuss the medical condition, management, and treatment options of each patient. Our team works together to deliver coordinated cancer care, including access to clinical trials.
As a patient, you’ll meet with this multispecialty TOP cancer team, which includes experts in several fields. We offer these meetings virtually so that you and your family or friends can attend from a remote distance.
After a detailed discussion about your unique situation, you’ll talk to each specialist individually. You can ask questions about next steps, explore your treatment options, and hear from every member of your care team. The appointment concludes with a clear and unified lung cancer care plan.
You’ll have oncology nurse navigators and specialized nurse practitioners by your side every step of the way. Our wide range of support services keep you comfortable and informed during and after lung cancer treatment.
At the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, our compassionate team provides holistic cancer care and support. Through education, counseling, guidance, and interactive programs, we ease the burden of cancer on you and your loved ones. Learn more about the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology.
Lung cancer research
Our researchers help develop new and advanced therapies for lung cancer. As leaders in research, UCLA Health has pioneered clinical trials to develop immunotherapy and improve targeted treatments. We work tirelessly to enhance lung cancer surgery techniques and establish new standards of care internationally.
Types of lung cancer we treat
Lung cancer develops when abnormal cells in the lungs grow uncontrollably, forming tumors. At UCLA Health, we specialize in treating all kinds of lung cancer, including the two main types and rare forms of the disease.
Symptoms of lung cancer don’t usually appear until the disease has progressed. They include cough (sometimes coughing up blood), difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest pain and weight loss. The two main types of lung cancer are:
Small cell lung cancer
This type of lung cancer most often results from smoking cigarettes. It usually grows and spreads quickly. Chemotherapy and radiation are the most common treatments for small cell lung cancer.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
Around 80% of lung cancers are non-small cell. These cancers grow and spread more slowly than small cell lung cancer. The three kinds of non-small cell lung cancer are:
- Adenocarcinoma, which usually affects the outer lungs. It starts in tissues that cover your organs and line cavities in the body (epithelial tissues)
- Squamous cell carcinoma, which affects the center of the lungs and develops in air tubes
- Large cell carcinoma, a type that grows in any area of the lung and tends to spread more quickly
Treatments for lung cancer
At UCLA Health, lung cancer specialists have experience with advanced treatments and therapies. We tailor every plan based on the type of lung cancer and several other factors. Your treatment plan may include:
Medical oncology uses drugs and other agents to find and destroy cancer cells. We test every lung cancer we diagnose to provide the most effective treatment for those cancer cells. Medical oncology treatments for lung cancer include:
- Chemotherapy, which uses several different drugs to kill cancer cells
- Immunotherapy, which uses medicine that activates your immune system so it can identify cancer cells and destroy them
- Targeted therapy, which uses drugs that kill cancer cells without damaging healthy cells in the body
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. We offer the most advanced methods of radiation. Your care team works with you to personalize every treatment plan and offer support.
Oncologists often recommend minimally invasive interventional procedures for patients who aren’t candidates for surgery or radiation therapy. Our specially trained interventional radiologists make a tiny incision and use small, hollow tubes (such as catheters and endoscopes) for treatments including:
- Cryoablation, which uses extreme cold to kill lung cancer cells
- Draining fluid, which alleviates shortness of breath
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which heats the tumor to destroy cancer cells
- Removing small tumors, which opens lung airways
Lung cancer surgery
Highly skilled thoracic surgeons remove cancer from the lungs using several procedures. UCLA Health lung surgeons use minimally invasive methods and the latest robotic or video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) techniques whenever possible. These procedures are extremely precise and reduce recovery time.
Lung cancer clinical trials
UCLA Health conducts cancer research that directly impacts patient care. In addition to standard treatment, your care team will offer you the opportunity to participate in clinical trials whenever possible. You’ll have access to groundbreaking lung cancer treatments and therapies.
Meet our team
At UCLA Health, our multispecialty lung cancer team includes medical oncologists, pulmonologists, radiation oncologists and thoracic surgeons. Together, we combine decades of experience to deliver outstanding preventive care, precise diagnoses, and effective treatments for lung cancer.