Overview of the Lung Cancer Program

Lung cancer is one of the most common, complex, and aggressive forms of cancer. The multidisciplinary team in Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Lung Cancer Program uses the latest available techniques to diagnose and treat lung cancer. The Program also offers 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. The Heart & Vascular and Respiratory & Critical Care Institutes jointly contribute to this program.

What We Treat

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 linked to tobacco use. In the GCC and UAE, this also includes other forms of smoking, such as shisha, cigars, and medwakh pipes.

Lung cancer is characterized by indeterminate pulmonary nodules – an abnormal collection of cells which can appear in a CT scan of the lungs. Another characteristic of lung cancer is malignant pleural effusion, which is a buildup of excess fluid around the lungs that occurs as cancer cells spread. Patients with this condition usually suffer from shortness of breath and general discomfort. 

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Lung Cancer Program uses the most advanced techniques available to provide a fast and thorough diagnosis, followed by a detailed discussion of each individual’s treatment options.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Lung Cancer

Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer diagnosis begins with a CT scan, supported by several minimally invasive procedures if the results reveal a possible cancer. 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 and multiple patient transfers within the facility.

Diagnostic tests include:

  • Bronchoscopy : A procedure in which a hollow flexible tube, or bronchoscope, is used to visually examine inside the patient’s lungs and collect samples for laboratory testing.
  • Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS): A procedure in which a bronchoscope is used to acquire ultrasound images of the lungs and airways. 
  • Mediastinoscopy: A procedure used to view the space in between the lungs.
  • Transthoracic CT guided biopsy: A method of obtaining a biopsy of the lymph nodes.
  • Thoracoscopy: A procedure in which a flexible tube is inserted through an incision in the chest in order to view the lungs and surrounding area.

These important tests can help determine whether cancer is present, establish how advanced the disease is, and provide information that will guide the patient’s treatment plan.

Lung Cancer Treatment​

Lung cancer treatment usually requires the surgical removal of cancerous tumors. Where possible, treatment is performed using a minimally invasive technique called Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS), whereby a camera and endoscopic instruments are inserted into the chest through one or more small incisions. One of the main benefits of VATS is that it causes less post-operative pain and offers a faster recovery than open surgery (thoracotomy).

The type of surgery performed can vary depending on the size, localization, and extent of the tumor. Some surgical treatment options include:

  • Segmentectomy or lobectomy: A surgery in which part of the lung is removed.
  • Pneumonectomy: A surgery in which the lung is completely removed.
  • Fluid removal: A procedure in which a thoracic surgeon uses minimally-invasive techniques to remove fluid buildup from malignant pleural effusion. Alternatively, fluid can be drained via the placement of small-bore catheters by an interventional pulmonologist. 
  • Complex surgeries:
    • When cancer affects the chest wall, diaphragm, or blood vessels, surgery is performed using large incisions (thoracotomy) to ensure that the tumor is completely removed.
    • If a tumor is in located in the patient’s airway, a surgeon may need to place a stent to prevent that airway from closing. 

All of the above surgeries can be performed by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s experienced team of lung cancer surgeons.

Additional Information​

Preventative Lung Cancer Screening for Early Intervention

Most patients only begin to show symptoms of lung cancer when the cancer is too far advanced for effective treatment. Because of this, screening is strongly recommended for high risk groups, such as long-term cigarette, shisha or medwakh smokers aged 50 years or older.  Former smokers who have quit in the past 15 years are also considered high risk, and should consider screening. Lung cancer screening is performed with a CT scan, which is fast, painless, non-invasive, and accurate.

If a patient would like to quit smoking, CCAD’s Smoking Cessation Program​ is available to assist. 

Lung Cancer Program Caregivers

The Lung Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is comprised of a multidisciplinary team, and offers specialized support in areas ranging from diagnostic imaging to post-operative care. Caregivers include:

  • Thoracic Surgeons 
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Intensivists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Radiologists
  • Oncologists
  • Pain management practitioners
  • Specialized nursing staff
  • Respiratory therapists​
  • ​Pathologists


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