Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Day 10: Brendon Stiles, MD. "Even a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer is not a death sentence."

Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2015

Day 10: Brendon Stiles, MD, Health Care Provider
"Even a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer is not a death sentence."
Twitter handle: @BrendonStilesMD

Brendon Stiles, MD
Who is Brendon Stiles? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ten years ago, I lost my father to lung cancer. After training at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, I am now an Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine, New York-Presbyterian Hospital. I operate on and care for patients with lung cancer. I have written extensively about lung cancer screening and the management of early lung cancer. I am also a basic science researcher, trying to characterize a new therapeutic target for lung cancer. I am on the Board of Directors and Medical Advisory Board of the Lung Cancer Research Foundation. In addition to being a surgeon and researcher, I consider myself to be a patient advocate.

What made you want to go into your line of work?

I love taking care of patients. In particular, I find that surgically resecting tumors from patients with early stage lung cancer and curing many of these patients is immensely satisfying. I enjoy the technical challenges and instant gratification of surgery.

Tell us about your father's experience with lung cancer.

My dad died from metastatic lung cancer 10 years ago. Five years prior to that he had entered a pilot program for CT screening for lung cancer, however the program was stopped early and he did not continue with annual screening CT scans. By the time he was diagnosed after a visit to the emergency room, his cancer had spread outside the chest. This was prior to targeted therapies and immunotherapy. Despite chemotherapy, my dad's disease progressed rapidly and he died just months after his diagnosis.

What do you want people to know about lung cancer?

Lung cancer can be cured if diagnosed at an early stage. Eligible patients should consider entering CT screening programs. Remarkable technical advances have been made in the surgical care of lung cancer which have made surgery safe and effective for early stage disease. People should also understand that even a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer is not a death sentence. Several new, targeted therapeutics have become available to lung cancer patients along with drugs that boost patients' own immune systems to fight cancer. It is critical for patients to seek out experienced centers for treatment and to consider mutation analysis of their tumors.

Where do you see lung cancer treatment going in the future?

I believe that instead of a "one size fits all" approach, we will continue to see progression towards individually tailored treatment regimens for each patient. Both surgical approaches and systemic therapy choices will be decided based upon improved imaging, staging, and molecular profiling of individual tumors.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

As well as remarkable treatment advances, we are at a "tipping point" for lung cancer awareness, advocacy, and research funding. The #LCSM movement is critical to all of that. It is incredibly rewarding to me to be a part of that. 


Each day during Lung Cancer Awareness Month (November), a lung cancer blogger will share a brief profile of someone involved with lung cancer. The person profiled might be a patient, caregiver, advocate, researcher, or healthcare provider.

Yesterday's post was on Lysa Buonanno's blog, Faith, Family and Friends - Living with Stage IV Lung Cancer, where she profiled lung cancer survivor Andy Trahan.

Tomorrow’s post will be on Samantha Mixon's blog, Keeping my Faith - Living with Stage IV Lung Cancer, where she will profile lung cancer survivor Kelly Shannon.

All profiles can be found the day after posting on the #LCSM Chat blog at http://lcsmchat.com/. A list of links to all the profiles on the original bloggers’ pages can be found at on the #LCSM Chat site on the Profiles in Lung Cancer page.

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