Thoracic Oncology Program »  Patient Center »  Thoracic Oncology at UCSF »  Why UCSF for Thoracic Surgery & Oncology

Why UCSF for Thoracic Surgery & Oncology

Lung cancer, esophageal cancer and mesothelioma are complex and challenging diseases to treat. A precise diagnosis and an individualized treatment plan are critical to success as are having experienced, highly-trained thoracic surgeons performing the procedures.

Expertise in Complex Cases

Thoracic surgeons at UCSF are well-known for their willingness to treat high-risk patients including those routinely turned down for surgery at other institutions. Patients given only limited options by their treating physicians often seek second opinions from our specialists.

Lung Cancer Surgery LargeThe Thoracic Surgery Program is known for its treatment of high-risk patients including those patients routinely turned down for surgery at other institutions. Patients who have exhausted standard treatments at other hospitals often seek second opinions at UCSF because of its expertise.

UCSF Medical Center earned a “high performance” rating – the highest rating possible – for lung cancer surgery in the U.S. News & World Report 2017-2018 Best Hospitals survey. The survey evaluated data from more than 4,500 hospitals.

Multidisciplinary Approach

Our surgeons work closely with other specialists including medical and radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, radiologists and pathologists. Multidisciplinary care is seamless and comprehensive. Treatment is tailored to each patient who each are regularly reassessed. Collaboration is present from the beginning and the a Thoracic Tumor Board meets weekly to assess the most challenging cases.

Willingness to Go the Extra Mile

The Wall Street Journal underscored the point that thoracic surgeons at UCSF are willing to be aggressive in treating patients with advanced lung cancer who could benefit from that apporach.

"When people are told they have "inoperable" cancer, it doesn't always mean that a surgeon can't remove the tumor. Often the surgeon can but has made a calculation that the risks of the procedure aren't worth the possible benefits. Now, at certain cancer centers, including Vanderbilt, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and University of California, San Francisco Comprehensive Cancer Center, some doctors are arguing that it pays to be aggressive -- trying surgery along with other treatments. This is still a new approach, and the number of advanced-stage cancer patients who undergo surgery is small. But the idea has the potential to change treatment for terminally ill patients, because it comes at a time when new therapies offer the prospect of prolonging lives. Surgery, the thinking goes, may keep a patient alive long enough to take advantage of drugs and new treatments still being developed."

Clinical Trials 

Physicians in the Thoracic Oncology Program are also scientific investigators. Each is strongly committed to giving patients access to the latest therapies via a broad menu of clinical trials.

Researchers are now using the molecular characteristics of  a patient's tumor to guide the treatment decision. These include targeted therapies that, unlike systemic chemotherapy,  selectively attack only the cancer cells. Two such drugs, Tarceva and Avastin, have already been approved for several types of lung cancer. The program is committed long-term to to offering patients trials for every type and stage of lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies.

Training at Leading Centers

Our surgeons have all trained at leading academic medical centers renowned for their clinical excellence in thoracic oncology and thoracic surgery.  

Low Operative Mortality

For lung and esophageal cancer surgery, experience  counts. The UCSF Thoracic Oncology Program, a high volume referral center for Northern California and the Western U.S., performs nearly four hundred major procedures annually, more than any  program on the West Coast.

Numerous published studies have demonstrated that lung and esophageal cancer patients had fewer complications and better outcomes when having their surgery at high volume medical centers like UCSF. For non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the disease, overall operative mortality is UCSF less than one-percent (1%).

X