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Lung cancer, Reader Mail

Mailbag: Cancer Treatment Centers of America & Lung Cancer

Update:  in March of 2014 (almost three years after our original post), the Cancer Treatment Centers of America announced the addition of a thoracic surgeon, Dr. Johnathan Kiev to their staff at the midwestern campus in Zion, Illinois.  

Here at Cirugia de Torax.org, we receive quite a bit of email about lung cancer, and lung cancer treatment.  A significant portion of this email concerns questions regarding the efficacy and treatments available at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America – a commercial, for-profit chain of hospital facilities that advertise ‘holistic’ and specialized cancer treatment.

The company currently has four hospitals, spread across the United States (Philadelphia, PA, Arizona, Oklahoma and Illinois with additional facilities scheduled to open in 2012.)

This organization is particularly well-known due to a series of television advertisements with various actors making statements such as “when I woke up from surgery, my surgeon said I had cancer.  He had no compassion” etc, etc.  These commercials tend to be emotionally exploitative (in my opinion), but I thought I would investigate some of the treatments offered for thoracic cancers due to the volume of inquiries.

However, when perusing the information available on-line, including surgeon profiles – it was readily apparent that despite offering a wide range of therapies and information targeted at patients with lung / esophageal/ and other thoracic cancers – there are no board-certified or specialty trained thoracic surgeons currently working for this organization.  The majority of surgeons listed are general surgeons, with a few head and neck surgeons.  In fact, there are only 2 general surgeons at each facility (as well as a plastic surgeon at each facility – listed under ‘breast surgeon’.)

This hospital chain – doesn’t offer thoracic surgical procedures despite advertising heavily for these patients. (Some of the terminology used on their website is vague – but lobectomies, lung resections, esophagectomies are not specifically mentioned.) The website alludes to this fact – in one small section – stating that ‘we’ll give you treatments when others can’t” or at least the assumption that the centers are only treating advanced (late stage) lung cancers is expressed.  But on another section of the site, they advertise diagnostic modalities for diagnose lung cancer – so it’s not the most open/ easily understood website from the patient perspective.

So – to answer previous inquiries, “What about the Cancer Treatment Centers of America?  Is that a good place to go for lung cancer?”

Short answer:  No. (or at least not yet.)

Detailed answer:  As we’ve discussed before, the best long-term outcomes for lung cancer are obtained via surgery.  The first stop after a lung cancer diagnosis should be to see a thoracic surgeon.  After a discussion of your particular circumstances (stages, burden of disease etc.) your thoracic surgeon will be better able to determine whether surgery is an option.  Until this determination has been made, all other therapies/ holistic treatments/ supplements/ etc. should be considered secondary.  These are not the best first-line treatments for someone with surgically manageable disease.

Only after this determination – should/ could patients consider receiving additional or adjuvant treatments in facilities such as the organization mentioned above.

please note – Cirugia de Torax.org does not dispense or provide medical advice, and does not answer individualized/ specific medical or surgical questions.  Questions should be general in nature.  Replies are for basic consumer education, and none of the information provided on this site should be considered in lieu of a medical consultation with a board certified health care provider. 

Additional information –

1. Commercial – a particularly vague ‘cancer’ commercial emphasising holistic / ‘alternative’ treatments.  As a nurse, this specific commercial is rather offensive to me.

2. Cancer treatment center of america – website

About K Eckland

World of Thoracic Surgery is a blog about the work, research, and practices of thoracic surgeons around the world. It includes case studies, [sometimes] dry research, interviews with thoracic surgeons along with patient perspectives, and feedback.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Mailbag: Cancer Treatment Centers of America & Lung Cancer

  1. Mainstream medicine tends to treat symptoms rather than address the underlying causes of diseases or conditions. Mainstream doctors generally have their dominant treatments, medicines and practices that relatively limit experimentation with individual patients. Alternative medicine tends to have more liberty to experiment and apply different treatments, and often experiment until they get results. In general, their treatments are typically very safe and often natural. (Alternative medicine practitioners often do and should earn income from their practices and products; but could it be that there is much more money in symptom management in the mainstream camps?)`

    Posted by Maryetta Yonamine | February 19, 2013, 8:24 am
    • First off, all of your assumptions are incorrect, and unscientific at best. “Mainstream medicine” is evidence-based, scientifically proven care that treats the pathology of an disease or condition. In some of these conditions, like hypertension, most people has no symptoms until they develop renal failure, heart failure or stroke, so no, doctors aren’t “jusr” treating symptoms, and as you state ignoring the underlying cause.
      Secondly, it is a gross generalization to try and pretend that A. “Alternative treatments” are more natural or holistic or B. that “alternative practitioners” are more caring than the rest of us.

      Just because you are treating patients with some romantically named ‘herb’ doesn’t make you more natural or holistic – but it can make you dangerous since these ‘medications’ are not fda regulated, like all other medications, which by the way, are usually plant-derived. But I could write entire books on the fallacies you have presented in these statements alone.

      However, I suspect that you are a decent, caring person at heart – if a misguided one. There is a place for alternative practices within health care, but the point of the article is that treatment centers shouldn’t mislead potential patients as to the treatments available at their centers.

      In fact, the latest series of commercials from CT of A are much more definitive and clear about that – and specific mention CT of A for non-operable lung cancer only. That was my original point, if you actually read the article.

      Posted by CartagenaSurgery | February 20, 2013, 2:34 pm

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