Pioneering Lung Cancer Surgery Directly Delivers Chemotherapy

Thursday, August 6, 2009

BUFFALO, NY – A pioneering surgical technique for lung cancer that allows the direct delivery of chemotherapy has been developed by Todd Demmy, MD, Chair of Thoracic Surgery at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and is reported in the August 2009 issue of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Roswell Park surgeons, who termed the procedure “lung suffusion,” found in their initial clinical experience that the surgical technique is safe and merits further study. The technique is quite different from earlier methods and involves the permeation of the chemotherapy drug throughout the lung.

The study evaluated the dose-limiting toxicities of a single infusion of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, administered directly into the lung of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

Rather than circulating the drug throughout the patient’s entire body, researchers use lung suffusion to temporarily replace blood only in the main artery of the lung, thus limiting the exposure of healthy, non-cancerous tissue. When the 30-minute infusion is complete, the cisplatin is flushed out, and normal blood flow resumes.

Between February and November 2008, four patients, ages 46 to 69 years, underwent the procedure without complications and were discharged on the first or second day after surgery without chest tubes. All patients continued on to standard chemotherapy and experienced only minor toxicity, not related to the suffusion.

“Although our experience is early and limited, isolated lung suffusion appears to be a safe, promising and reproducible technique with numerous potential applications,” said Dr. Demmy. “Initial results have been encouraging, showing significant reductions in the targeted tumor volumes. We are continuing this trial with higher-dose chemotherapy levels and expanding inclusion criteria to patients with metastatic pulmonary disease.”

The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Roswell Park, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit Roswell Park’s website at, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email


Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager