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Leading the Way in Comprehensive Lung Cancer Care at AMITA Health

by Drs. Neeraj Desai and Jay Dalal

The AMITA Health Cancer Institute offers one of the most comprehensive lung cancer programs in the region — from lung cancer screening and smoking cessation programs to minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical procedures to compassionate palliative care. In the last 10 years, we have cared for nearly 5,000 patients with lung cancer at two destination centers. Any patient with a suspicious abnormality on a CT scan or chest x-ray can be referred to the program and have immediate access to our expert team for further evaluation. Once referred, every case is discussed in our multidisciplinary cancer conference, where interventional pulmonologists and radiologists, medical and radiation oncologists, thoracic surgeons, pathologists, and radiologists come together to find the best course of care for each patient, including potential eligibility for one of our many clinical trials.

From screening to treatment

The AMITA Health lung cancer screening program is one of the longest-running screening programs in the Chicagoland area. Since August of 2016, 35 cancers have been diagnosed from 932 CT lung cancer screens (a 3.75% detection rate). With low-dose CT, we are able to detect lung cancer earlier than ever before, so patients can start treatment earlier.

The AMITA Health Lung Cancer Program offers leading edge minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Our interventional pulmonology specialists perform minimally invasive procedures such as endobronchial ultrasound and navigational bronchoscopy, as well as minimally invasive robotic or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery. These minimally invasive procedures enable cancer specialists to diagnose and stage lung cancer more accurately. Through our comprehensive airway intervention program, we perform laser therapy, cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy, argon plasma coagulation, and stent placement.

In the last few decades, the landscape of medical treatment for lung cancer has changed dramatically — we now recognize that for many patients cytotoxic chemotherapy, which has side effects that can significantly affect quality of life, may not be needed as a first-line therapy. New therapies can be more durable in response and with fewer side effects compared to traditional chemotherapy. These include oral therapies that disrupt tumor growth by targeting specific tumor cell pathways, and immunotherapies that use the patient’s own immune system to attack the tumor cells.1,2 Paired with advances in personalized oncology, in which molecular markers expressed by tumors are used to predict responsiveness to specific therapies, it is now possible to tailor treatments that can control even metastatic lung cancer and maintain a good quality of life. These advances have also opened the door to the treatment of older patients with lung cancer (in their 80s and 90s) who would not be candidates for chemotherapy but might respond to the newer targeted therapies and immunotherapies. Click here to learn more about personalized oncology at the AMITA Health Cancer Institute.

At the leading edge in clinical research

At the AMITA Health Cancer Institute, several trials are examining the use of lung cancer molecular markers to direct treatment with combination therapies (Table). In addition, we are currently enrolling patients diagnosed with either resectable or unresectable lung cancer in two trials of photodynamic therapy, which has been used in other types of cancer, including esophageal cancer and airway tumors. For more information about ongoing clinical trials in lung cancer at the AMITA Health Cancer Institute, contact Lauren Niklinski, CCRP, at or by calling 847-952-7351. You may also visit


Phase 2 trial of immunotherapy (pembrolizumab alone or with IL-10) in patients with newly diagnosed metastatic non-small cell lung cancer with high levels of PD-L1 expression



Phase 2 trial of immunotherapy (nivolumab alone or with IL-10) in patients with newly diagnosed metastatic non-small cell lung cancer with high levels of PD-L1 expression



Phase 2/3 trial of using biomarkers to assign treatment in patients with recurrent metastatic squamous cell lung cancer



Navigational bronchoscopy and photodynamic therapy for unresectable solid tumor lung cancer



Navigational bronchoscopy and photodynamic therapy for resectable solid tumor lung cancer



A Multicenter, Randomized Trial of Photodynamic Therapy versus Argon Plasma Coagulation for Lung Cancer with Endobronchial Obstruction


All patients referred to the Lung Cancer Program benefit from the guidance of a nurse navigator, who helps patients and family members through the program, starting from the very first appointment. This key team member answers questions and provides education, schedules appointments and tests, and follows up with all patients after procedures.

The entire team believes in the importance of keeping the referring physician informed of patient status and progress, through shared clinic notes and tumor board recommendations, as well as personal calls. Dr. Desai and Dr. Dalal are available for consultation prior to referral by calling 847.498.LUNG {5864} (Dr. Desai) and 630.286.5500 (Dr. Dalal).

Neeraj R. Desai, MD

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Jay S. Dalal, MD, FACP

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  1. Zaman A., Bivona TG. Emerging application of genomics-guided therapeutics in personalized lung cancer treatment. Ann Transl Med. 2018;6(9):160. doi: 10.21037/atm.2018.05.02

  2. Constantinidou A, et al. Targeting programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) and ligand (PD-L1): a new era in cancer active immunotherapy. Pharmacol Ther. 2018; pii: S0163-7258(18)30173-6. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2018.09.008. [Epub ahead of print].


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