One of every 20 lung cancer patients present with what is termed a Pancoast tumor (or superior sulcus tumor), which is a quite painful lung cancer that arises in the top part of the lung and invades the ribs, nerves and possibly the spine. Although far more locally invasive than the usual lung cancer, the tumor usually has not spread distantly, and potentially, Pancoast tumor surgery can be an effective treatment option. The goal of surgery is to remove all of the tumor, which requires resection of part of the lung, as well as some of the ribs in the chest wall. Often it is also necessary to remove some of the bony parts of the spine, depending what structures the cancer has invaded.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, patients can benefit from the latest advancements in Pancoast tumor surgery. Some of the benefits of seeking treatment at Moffitt include:
- Experienced lung cancer surgeons and oncologic spine neurosurgeons routinely perform Pancoast surgery together on all patients.
- Combined thoracic-neurosurgical approaches are available for patients with Pancoast tumors that have invaded the spine, potentially including insertion of stainless steel reinforcing braces and even the occasional replacement of vertebral bodies with metal prostheses.
- Vascular surgeons are readily available and are involved in Pancoast surgery cases in which a critical blood vessel has been invaded by the cancer – it is removed, and a vascular graft is inserted.
- Continuous monitoring of spinal nerve function (somatosensory evoked potentials) is performed on any surgical case involving the spine.
As a high-volume cancer center, Moffitt has significant expertise in treating even the most complex cancers, including Pancoast tumors (superior sulcus tumors). In fact, the Pancoast tumor program at Moffitt has the greatest experience and volume of these complex cases in the entire Southeast U.S. And, because we have a team of surgeons who specialize in treating malignancies of the lungs and chest, we are able to consistently achieve successful outcomes while helping each patient improve his or her quality of life through surgery.
Pancoast tumor treatment has the highest cure rates when surgery is combined with other forms of treatment (chemotherapy and radiation therapy). Moffitt makes it possible for patients to receive comprehensive treatment in a single, convenient location. Supportive care services are also available from a team of skilled providers.