The Women’s Lung Cancer Program, directed by Yolonda L. Colson, MD, PhD, is dedicated to understanding the significance of gender in lung cancer susceptibility, tumor biology, and disease course in order to develop the most effective, personalized treatment plan for each patient.

Program specialists are evaluating specific genetic mutations in tumors, as well as the greater susceptibility of women to develop certain types of lung cancer, such as bronchoalveolar carcinoma (BAC) and adenocarcinoma.

In addition, Program specialists are examining the basis for the development of lung cancer in women who have never smoked (accounting for 20 percent of all women with lung cancer, compared with only five to 10 percent of male lung cancer patients).

Program experts also are evaluating ways to reduce the high recurrence rates of early lung cancer among women – as high at 40 percent with an average 60 percent survival rate. The Program is dedicated to advancing the understanding and identification of lung cancer as a women’s cancer – accounting for more deaths among women each year than breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers combined.

Providing highly specialized diagnosis and treatment for women diagnosed with lung cancer, specialists in the Program use:

·Sub-specialized radiologic and pathology tools;

·Expert surgical intervention;

·Advanced medical and adjuvant therapies;

·Cutting-edge translational research;

·Comprehensive support services.

Through thoracic surgeons, oncologists, pulmonologists, social workers, and other specialists, the Program offers the latest in clinical trials, minimally invasive surgical techniques, and oncology therapies designed to improve outcomes.

The Program is currently leading several promising research studies, including:

·Characterization of micrometastatic nodal disease in lung cancer – This NCI-funded Phase I/II clinical trial is exploring the clinical application of an optical imaging technology that uses safe, invisible, near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent light to permit sentinel lymph node (SLN) identification via real-time image guidance during surgery.NIR fluorescent lymphotrophic contrast agents permit non-radioactive, real-time lymphatic mapping that will provide a clinically applicable means to improve surgical staging with expected therapeutic benefit to patients with early-stage lung cancer;

·Design and validation of drug-eluting polymers for peri-operative loco-regional drug delivery – These pre-clinical studies examine numerous polymer and nanoparticle drug delivery mechanisms aimed at preventing cancer recurrence at either the suture line or within regional lymph nodes following surgery. Copolymer films containing paclitaxel are being evaluated to prevent growth of recurrent disease following resection of primary tumor nodules. Polymer nanoparticles with ph-sensitive intracellular drug release mechanisms have been shown to migrate through lymphatic channels to deliver chemotherapy to regional lymph nodes.

Patient Support

The Program offers the Women’s Lung Cancer Forum, a monthly meeting for patients with lung cancer and their family members, held in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Designed to provide a supportive environment for patients to learn about lung cancer and become advocates for lung cancer care, surrounded by fellow survivors of lung cancer, the Forum offers seminars on a wide range of topics, presented by medical professionals, advocates and cancer survivors.

The Forum is held on the second Wednesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the Gretchen S. and Edward A. Fish Center for Women’s Health at the Brigham and Women’s Ambulatory Care Center, 850 Boylston Street, 4th Floor, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Attendance is open and does not require registration.

For close to 175 years, Brigham and Women’s Hospital has been the most trusted name in women’s health. Our women health center has been the site for important advances in women’s health. Our team works to improve the health of women and transform their care. For more information about BWH, please visit http://www.brighamandwomens.org/.

Author's Bio: 

Brigham and Women's Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is consistently ranked as one of the nation's leading hospitals.