The Chest Oncology Center primarily treats lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma, thymoma, and thymic cancer. Lung cancer kills more people worldwide than any other type of malignant tumor, making its diagnosis and treatment particularly important. At the Chest Oncology Center, our team of specialists in respiratory medicine, respiratory surgery, and radiotherapy works together to treat these types of chest tumors.
To diagnose lung cancer, the most common type of cancer, doctors use respiratory system endoscopy, known as bronchoscopy. We were the first in the Hokuriku region to introduce ultrasound bronchoscopy, and we work to further improve our diagnostic techniques and medical skills with each passing day. Testing ordinarily takes two days, including an overnight stay: the test is performed the morning of day one, and the patient is then closely monitored for any complications. If there are no problems, the patient is discharged the following morning, and comes back about a week later for an additional outpatient check-up, and to learn their test results. It is not a simple test, but we work to ensure patient safety through vital sign monitors, and we use virtual navigation and ultrasonography to improve diagnostic yield.
We hold respiratory and mediastinal cancer board meetings every Wednesday. These important review meetings provide physicians, surgeons, radiologists, oncologists, and other doctors with opportunities to discuss topics such as which diagnosis and treatment methods to use for patients with lung cancer or other tumors. Modern medical treatment involves independent teams of medical professionals, and conferences like these are held every day, even when there may not be patients at the moment. These group discussions also cover hypotheticals: for example, if surgical removal is a valid therapy option for a patient, but the tumor is too large to readily remove, should the patient be given anti-cancer drugs or radiation to reduce the size of the tumor before surgery?
One type of endoscopic surgery we perform is known as uniportal VATS: “uniportal” meaning that only one incision is made into the body, and “VATS” for “video-assisted thoracic surgery.” Because the surgery involves only one incision, about 3 cm in size, it can be performed with exceptionally little harm to the body. Compared to conventional endoscopic chest surgery, which requires multiple incisions, uniportal VATS is significantly less painful, with faster recovery — most patients’ hospital stays after the surgery are two to five days. Additionally, surgery time and anesthesia time are an average of 90 minutes shorter than conventional approaches, allowing even elderly patients to leave the hospital sooner, in good health. Fully curing the disease and rapid recovery help reduce the burden on family members, and if additional therapy is necessary, patients can receive that at the appropriate time.
Our Chest Oncology Center is one of the few places in Japan that offers this cutting-edge, minimally invasive surgical option.
We provide radiotherapy to some 500 patients annually, using two high-precision radiotherapy systems capable of precisely aiming radiation down to the millimeter. Radiotherapy is used in lung cancer treatment, not only as a form of therapy to completely cure the disease, but also as an adjuvant (supplemental) therapy before or after surgery, or as a way to provide care focused on reducing symptoms in the event that cancer metastasizes or recurs. Ordinarily, patients will feel virtually nothing during radiotherapy sessions. A radiotherapy regimen is often scheduled across ten to thirty doses, known as “fractions,” but if the radiation can be focused on a pinpoint lesion, then the therapy can sometimes be completed in as little as one to four days. We strive to provide patients with radiotherapy that is as gentle on the body as possible.
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