Lung Cancer Program


Premier Research Program

Since Penn's discovery of the Philadelphia Chromosome, which revolutionized cancer treatment, we've had a history of groundbreaking research.

Every day our scientists learn more about the causes of lung cancer, mesothelioma and related disorders, as well as, better ways to detect and treat them. Penn continues to be on the cutting edge of designing novel treatments for lung cancer, mesothelioma and related disorders.

All of which can make a difference to patients and their families, both today and in the future.

Making History

  • Our thoracic surgeons are national leaders who have developed less invasive surgical techniques that quicken recovery and procedures that provide options for patients not available elsewhere in the country.
  • As one of the early pioneers in video assisted surgery (VATS), we have made continued advances with this and other minimally invasive techniques which enables us to perform many operations through small incisions resulting in less pain and a shorter recovery period for our patients. We have also created surgical tools now used nationally.
  • We pioneered the use of photodynamic therapy (PDT) in combination with surgery in the fight against advanced stage lung cancer.
  • Our Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC) was the first to identify the brain-behavior mechanisms that explain why smokers with a particular genetic profile have a harder time quitting smoking.

Shaping the Future Cancer Care

  • Our lung cancer researchers are leaders in an international effort to potentially revolutionize the prevention and management of lung cancer though the creation of the first international lung cancer registry –whose aim is to deepen the understanding of lung cancer at its earliest, most treatable stages.
  • Penn has developed a treatment for mesothelioma based on work in the laboratory and continues to test its effectiveness through a National Cancer Institute grant.
  • We are a major center for lung cancer clinical trials, allowing us to provide some of the newest and best therapies to our patients.
  • Penn investigators are conducting exciting Phase I/II trials including:
    • Combination chemotherapy/surgery/radiation for mesothelioma
    • Autologous tumor vaccine for lung cancer and mesothelioma
    • PDT for treating currently untreatable tumors
    • Cell manipulation to enhance immune response for lung cancer, and mesothelioma
  • Lung gene research including:
    • Effect of gene expression on lung cancer formation/inhibition
    • Effect of demethylating drugs on inactivated gene in lung cancer
    • Lung cancer survival as a function of gene status and vascular invasion
  • A Tobacco and Environmental Carcinogenesis Program that is studying the relationships between environmental exposures and cancer with a focus on prevention of tobacco and asbestos-related cancers including lung cancer, head and neck cancer and mesothelioma.
  • A Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC) whose mission is to translate discoveries in basic neuroscience, pharmacology, genetics, and behavioral science to improve treatment for nicotine dependence.

As one of the nation's largest cancer research centers our investigators benefit each day from collaborations and interactions with over 400 scientists and physicians involved in the Abramson Cancer Center.