Health & Science

New Double Lung Transplant Technique Saves 2 Late-Stage Cancer Patients

Surgeons at Northwestern Medicine performed double lung transplants in patients with stage 4 lung cancer.

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A novel treatment for certain late-stage lung cancers has succeeded in the first two patients to undergo the operation.

Using knowledge learned during the Covid pandemic, surgeons at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago successfully performed double lung transplantations in two patients with stage 4 cancer. Both patients are alive and well. 

“If all the options have been exhausted, only then are we going to consider this,” said Dr. Ankit Bharat, the chief of thoracic surgery and the director of the Northwestern Medicine Canning Thoracic Institute.

Lung transplants for cancer patients have historically involved replacing one lung at a time. By taking both cancerous lungs out of the body at the same time and replacing them with two healthy transplanted lungs, surgeons can significantly reduce the risk of cancer cells contaminating the new organs or other parts of the body.

Northwestern’s program, called Northwestern Medicine’s Double Lung Replacement and Multidisciplinary Care, or DREAM, plans to track the first 75 cancer patients to receive a double-lung transplant. They hope what they learn from these patients in the long term will help other surgery centers be able to carry out the procedure as well. 

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