New Lung Procedure Benefits Cancer Patients

The highest rate of recurrence for lung cancer patients happens in the first two years.To decrease the chances of the cancer coming back, Winchester Hospital thoracic surgeons would prefer to remove the entire affected lobe.

However, due to underlying medical conditions – poor lung function, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) – removing the lobe is not always possible.

When it is not possible, Winchester Hospital’s thoracic surgeons and radiation oncologists use a brachytherapy mesh to minimize local recurrence of the cancer without significant side effects. 

While in surgery, the thoracic surgeon removes the tumor, and the radiation oncologist facilitates the placement of the small, gauge-like mesh on the patient’s lung.The plastic mesh, which emits low doses of radiation to the affected area for a year, is then sutured to the lung. 

Radiation oncologist, Katherine Kim, MD and thoracic surgeon, Roy Oommen, MD, were the first physicians at Winchester Hospital to perform the brachytherapy mesh procedure. 

“The vicryl mesh has radioactive seeds implanted in it that emit targeted amounts of radiation to the affected area,” said Dr. Kim. “The radiation seeds, which are about the size of a grain of rice, are so focused on that area that none of a patient’s other organs are exposed.”

While this procedure isn’t new, it’s unique for a community hospital to be able to offer it to its patients who have limited lung capacity. 

“It’s great for patients to come to Winchester Hospital to get this done, instead of going into Boston,” said Dr. Oommen.