ATS, ERS Define Role of Pulmonologist in Diagnosis and Management of Lung Cancer

Pulmonologist examining xray
 Pulmonologists perform a
 multifaceted role in the prevention,
 diagnosis, and treatment of
 lung cancer.

ATS and the European Respiratory Society leaders have issued the joint statement "The Pivotal Role of the Pulmonologist in the Prevention, Early Diagnosis and Management of Lung Cancer," which appears in the Aug. 15 American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"Pulmonologists are involved in all stages of care for patients with lung cancer," said writing committee member Charles A. Powell, MD, chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and co-chair of the ATS Section on Thoracic Oncology. "As part of multidisciplinary treatment teams, they play a crucial part in the diagnosis, staging, and treatment of this devastating disease."

The multifaceted role of pulmonologists in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of lung cancer includes:

  • development and implementation of algorithms for lung cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment;
  • interpretation of clinical and radiographic findings, performance of interventional procedures that are essential for diagnosis and staging, and acquiring tissue specimens that can guide treatment in this era of targeted therapy;
  • participation in clinical trial development and implementation to deliver novel agents directed towards chemoprevention and treatment of lung cancer;
  • management of comorbidities, such as dyspnea and respiratoryfailure, and side effects from both the cancer and treatment;
  • depending on the country and setting, providing medical treatment, general supportive care, and terminal care for cancer patients; and
  • leading smoking cessation programs and public health efforts to reduce the prevalence of smoking.

"The high mortality and costs to society associated with lung cancer make a prompt, multidisciplinary,standardized, and patient-centered approach to its diagnosis and treatment necessary," said Dr. Powell. "Pulmonologists are an important part of this approach." 

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