Thoracic Cancers

The Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute’s Thoracic Diseases Program cares for diseases of the chest - lungs, esophagus and thymus - including lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women.

Other thoracic cancers include slow-growing carcinoid tumors in the lungs, thymic malignancies and tracheal tumors.

Our team includes pulmonologists, thoracic-surgeon leaders in minimally invasive technology, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. Our approach to care includes navigating you to the right oncologist faster, using the latest technologies to detect even the smallest tumors and drawing on resources from the entire system.

That’s how we have become a major referral center in Connecticut for patients with lung cancer and other chest tumors.

More answers, insight and treatment options are available through our membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Alliance. You get the most advanced cancer treatment available anywhere, while staying close to home.

Connect with a Nurse Navigator

Call 855.255.6181 or request a callback for support, advice, or a second opinion.

Meet Our Team

Lung Cancer

The two main types of lung cancer are small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Most are related to tobacco use, making quitting critical for any patient being treated for lung cancer. 

Smokers can get two different types of NSCLC called adenocarcinoma and squamous cell. Nonsmokers are more likely to get adenocarcinoma.

At the Cancer Institute, we use new low-dose CT scan screening to diagnose lung cancer earlier. We help providers qualify patients for screenings: Eligible patients must have a one-pack-a-day or more smoking history for 20 years, be between 50 and 80, generally healthy and have no lung-cancer symptoms.

Through our MSK affiliation, we also offer some lung cancer patients immunotherapy, which uses medication to stimulate the immune system to target and destroy cancer cells more effectively.

Esophageal Cancer

Smoking is also a leading cause of esophageal cancer. Smokers have a 500 percent greater chance of developing cancer in the esophagus, a muscular tube in the digestive tract that transports food from the mouth to the stomach.

Combining tobacco and alcohol makes the risk even greater. The Cancer Institute offers many resources to help with smoking cessation

The Cancer Institute team, focused on early detection and prompt treatment of esophageal cancer, also champions use of the best available technology. In 2018, for example, Dr. Stefan Kachala became the first thoracic surgeon in Connecticut to perform a robotic esophagectomy for esophageal cancer. The robotic approach allows the surgeon to operate through small incisions instead of large abdominal and chest incisions. The result is less pain, less blood loss and a faster recovery.

Thymus Cancer

Tumors on the thymus, a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck, are extremely rare, with only about 400 cases a year in the United States.

The thymus, made predominantly of lymphatic tissue, helps produce the immune system’s T cells that attack specific foreign particles. The gland’s tissue slowly degenerates in puberty.

People with thymus cancer generally have the gland removed, or undergo radiation and chemotherapy.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance

We offer the latest treatments through our ongoing membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Alliance, which gives you access to the latest standards of care and clinical trials.

The MSK Alliance


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Support at the Cancer Institute

The Cancer Institute offers whatever you and your family need on your journey, whether it’s access to an oncology social worker, a nurse navigator to coordinate your care or the support of our Patient and Family Resource Center.

Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute