Radiation therapy was once the primary form of treatment for Pancoast tumors. While researchers have since discovered other effective options, radiation therapy remains one of the main types of Pancoast tumor treatment. When used as part of a multimodal treatment plan, radiation therapy can shrink tumors and alleviate symptoms, helping improve outcomes and enhance quality of life for patients.
For most patients, radiation therapy is scheduled before surgery. It can occasionally be used alone, but it is more often provided at the same time as chemotherapy. Pancoast tumors can potentially grow into nearby structures, such as the spine and the base of the neck, and therefore surgically removing an entire tumor can be a challenge. Preoperative radiation therapy can help shrink a tumor so that it is easier to remove. Clinical trials have shown that more than 90 percent of Pancoast tumors that are treated with both radiation therapy and chemotherapy can be completely removed. However, if a tumor is still too extensive for surgery after radiation treatment, chemotherapy can be provided to help destroy any residual cells.
Due to their location near the lungs, spine and other critical structures, Pancoast tumors often require specialized radiation therapy delivery techniques to minimize radiation exposure to the surrounding organs and tissues. These include:
Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy
Intensity modulated radiation therapy
Image-guided radiation therapy
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we offer some of the most innovative and highly targeted radiation therapy delivery methods. More importantly, however, we have a collaborative team of radiation oncologists, dosimetrists and radiation therapists who specialize in treating lung and Pancoast tumors. With this team’s expertise, we are able to maximize the benefits of advanced treatment technologies. Additionally, because this team collaborates with each patient’s surgeons, medical oncologists and supportive care providers, we are able to create a unique and multidimensional treatment plan.