Overview of the Lung Cancer Program

The Heart & Vascular Institute collaborates with the Respiratory Institute to form the Lung Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. The program uses the most advanced techniques available to diagnose and treat one of the most common, aggressive, and complex cancers: lung cancer. The multidisciplinary team includes highly experienced physicians who provide a fast and thorough diagnosis and individualized treatment plan. 

As part of the Lung Cancer Program, lung cancer screenings are available to patients who may be at high-risk – such as patients with a history of smoking – to help identify cancers at the earliest possible stage and to treat the cancer early, thus improving survival rates. 

What We Treat

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer-related death around the world, both in men and in women. Lung cancer is also one of the most aggressive and complex to treat. Cigarette smoking is strongly linked to the incidence of lung cancer; approximately 90% of lung cancer cases are a result of tobacco use. In the GCC and UAE, smoking shisha and medwakh pipes can also put the smoker at risk of developing lung cancer.

There are two common conditions that occur in patients with lung cancer:

  • Indeterminate pulmonary nodules: A collection of abnormal cells, which can appear on a chest x-ray or a computed tomography scan (CT scan) of the chest.
  • Malignant pleural effusion: Occurs as a result of metastatic disease; excess fluid builds up around the lungs as cancer cells spread, causing discomfort or shortness of breath.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi offers patients the option of a minimally invasive surgery or catheter placement to relieve the symptoms and remove nodules and fluid buildup caused by lung cancer.  

Lung Cancer Prevention 

Screenings for early intervention are offered at the Lung Cancer Program. Because diagnosis often happens when the patient is already in an advanced stage of lung cancer, treatment and a full recovery in these stages can be nearly impossible. Therefore, early diagnosis is essential to improving long-term survival. 

High-risk patients include long-term smokers of tobacco, shisha, or medwakh – especially those over 50 years old – as well as former smokers. 

Screening involves a painless and non-invasive accurate radiological test, called a CT scan. Preventative lung cancer screenings can reduce the death rate from lung cancer by 20% in high-risk patients. 

For assistance in quitting smoking, the Smoking Cessation Program is available at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.  

Diagnosis & Treatment 

Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

If a patient has a pulmonary nodule, the highly experienced multidisciplinary team starts a personalized diagnostic process to evaluate the patient’s condition and prepare the most suitable plan for treatment. Radiological tests and minimally invasive techniques are used to make a complete diagnosis and assess the stage of cancer. Diagnostic procedures include:​

  • Bronchoscopy: A bronchoscope, a flexible hollow tube, provides a way for the physician to collect samples for laboratory testing while examining inside the patient’s lungs.
  • Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS): A bronchoscope helps create ultrasound images of the airways and lungs. 
  • Mediastinoscopy: A procedure in which the physician can view the space between the lungs.
  • Transthoracic computed tomography (CT scan) guided biopsy: A method of obtaining a biopsy of the lymph nodes.
  • Thoracoscopy: A flexible tube, inserted through an incision in the chest, is used to view the lungs and surrounding area.

These diagnostic tests help to determine whether lung cancer is present, and to establish the stage of the disease. Individualized treatment plans are then created based on the test results.

If multiple tests are required for diagnosis, all tests can be done in the hybrid operating rooms at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, reducing the need for multiple procedures or transfers between facilities.​

Treatment of Lung Cancer

Depending on the size, place, and stage of the tumor, the lung may be removed either partially (lobectomy or segmentectomy) or completely (pneumonectomy). 

Treatment by Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS) is used when possible. This minimally invasive technique involves inserting endoscopic instruments and a camera through one or more small incisions in the chest. 

Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery is beneficial because it reduces post-operative pain when compared to open surgery (thoracotomy), and improves post-surgical recovery time.

Lung cancer surgery options can vary depending on the symptoms and stage of the cancer. 

Some complex cases, such as those that involve the chest wall, diaphragm, or blood vessels, will require surgery through large incisions (thoracotomy) to allow the surgeon to completely remove the tumor. Tumors may also need to be removed from the airway, possibly with the additional placement of a stent to keep the airway open. 

Other surgery options may include:

  • Lobectomy or segmentectomy: The surgical removal of part of the lung. 
  • Pneumonectomy: The surgical removal of the entire lung. 
  • Fluid removal: A minimally invasive surgery that drains fluid buildup caused by malignant pleural effusion. 
  • Catheters: Small-bore catheters are used to drain fluid buildup caused by malignant pleural effusion.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s team of experienced interventional pulmonologists are available to perform all of the above surgeries, as well as complex surgeries. 

Lung Cancer Program Caregivers

The Lung Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is comprised of a multidisciplinary team that includes surgeons and other specialists, such as physicians who provide support in diagnostic imaging and post-operative care. Caregivers involved in patient care as part of the Lung Cancer Program are:

  • Thoracic Surgeons 
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Intensive Care Specialists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Radiologists
  • Oncologists
  • Pain management practitioners
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Specialized nursing staff​


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