​Overview of Program

The Lung Cancer program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi uses the most advanced available techniques to diagnose and treat one of the most common, complex and aggressive forms of cancer. The multidisciplinary team includes highly experienced physicians available to see patients quickly, providing a fast and thorough diagnosis followed by a detailed discussion of each individual’s treatment options.

The service also includes screening for lung cancer in high-risk patients – particularly those with a history of tobacco use – to identify and treat cancers at the earliest possible stage, maximizing chances of recovery and survival.

What We Treat

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the world’s most common cause of cancer-related death for both men and women, and is one of the most complex and aggressive cancers to treat. The incidence of lung cancer is strongly linked to cigarette smoking, with about 90% of lung cancers being a result of tobacco use. In the GCC and UAE, this also includes other forms of smoking, such as shisha and medwakh pipes.

Most patients are diagnosed in an advanced stage of the disease and curative treatment is not possible. Early diagnosis is essential to improve long-term survival. 

Indeterminate Pulmonary Nodules

Lung cancer is always suspected if a pulmonary nodule is found on a chest x-ray or a computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest.  A multidisciplinary team investigates to evaluate the underlying cause and prescribes treatment. 

Malignant Pleural Effusion

Patients with malignant pleural effusion due to metastatic disease – where excess fluid builds up around the lungs as cancer cells spread – usually suffer from shortness of breath and discomfort. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi offers patients the option of a minimally invasive surgery or catheter placement to relieve the symptoms.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Lung cancer screening for early intervention

Most patients only show symptoms when the cancer is too far advanced for effective treatment, so screening high-risk groups to make an early diagnosis substantially increases chances of survival.

Screening is strongly recommended for long-term smokers aged 50 years or older, including shisha or medwakh as well as cigarettes. This also includes former smokers who have quit in the past 15 years.

Screening is carried out using a low dose CT scan, which provides a fast, painless, non-invasive, and accurate radiological test. It has been demonstrated to reduce the likelihood of dying from lung cancer by 20% in a high-risk population. 

Lung cancer and pulmonary nodules: diagnostics & staging

When a pulmonary nodule is detected, the highly experienced multidisciplinary team starts a personalized diagnostic and staging process to assess and prepare the most suitable route for treatment. Radiological tests (CT scan) and minimally invasive techniques are used to make a complete diagnosis and assess the stage of cancer. Diagnostic procedures include bronchoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound, mediastinoscopy, transthoracic CT guide biopsy, and thoracoscopy.

If a patient requires multiple diagnostic tests, these can be performed in one setting in Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s hybrid operating rooms, reducing the need for multiple procedures.

​Lung cancer treatment

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

Where possible, treatment is by video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS). This minimally invasive technique involves inserting a camera and endoscopic instruments into the chest through one or more small incisions. 

One of the main benefits of VATS is that it causes less post-operative pain than open surgery (thoracotomy). It leads to a faster post-surgical recovery and a short hospital stay.

Surgery for complex cases

Some complex cases, such as those that involve the chest wall, diaphragm or blood vessels, will need surgery through large incisions to ensure the tumor is completely removed.

Tumors may also need to be removed from the airway, possibly with the additional placement of a stent to keep the airway open. Complex surgeries can be performed by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s experienced team of interventional pulmonologists.

Malignant pleural effusion treatment

Patients with fluid around their lungs from cancer (malignant pleural effusion) are usually short of breath and must have this fluid removed. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is equipped to perform minimally invasive surgical procedures by thoracic surgeons, or placement of small-bore catheters by interventional pulmonologists.

Program Caregivers

The Lung Cancer program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi involves a multidisciplinary team including surgeons, with specialized support in areas ranging from diagnostic imaging to post-operative care. Caregivers involved in patient care for this program are:​

  • Thoracic Surgeons 
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Intensive Care Specialists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Radiologists
  • Oncologists

The team also includes specialized medical management, practitioners in pain management, specialized nursing staff, and a respiratory therapist as part of post-operative care.


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