Dr. Yung on the Evolving Role of the Pulmonologist
Rex Chin-Wei Yung, MD
Published Online: Monday, October 17, 2011
Rex Chin-Wei Yung, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Assistant Professor of Oncology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, explains the role of the pulmonologist has broadened as the desire to develop a multidisciplinary approach to treat lung cancer increases.
Lung cancer is behind other tumor types for realizing the benefit of a multidisciplinary approach. The treatment of patients with breast cancer can be viewed as a paradigm of how lung cancer treatment should be. This paradigm makes it clear that diagnosis guidelines and standards need to be solidified in lung cancer therapy, especially in regards to staging lymph nodes.
Pulmonologists aid the treatment process by helping with clinical staging using imaging, CT scans, PET scans, and new metabolic, nuclear type imaging, and molecular imaging. Yung adds that in many cases clinical staging is inadequate and the need to educate about the importance of tissue staging needs to be further stressed.
Locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains a challenging disease to treat, with a 5-year survival rate for patients with unresectable stage III disease of approximately 20%, even after definitive radiation therapy and concurrent chemotherapy.