The UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center offers multidisciplinary care for patients with all stages of lung cancer aimed at cure or control of disease, prevention of cancer recurrence and optimization of quality of life. Your team of cancer specialists will include experts in general thoracic surgery, gastroenterology, radiation oncology, diagnostic and interventional radiology, pulmonology and medical oncology.

More about lung cancer

surgery © UC RegentsLung cancer is the second most common cancer (after skin cancer) and is the primary cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women in the United States.

Cancer of the lungs usually originates in the cells that line the bronchi — the small tubes that channel air in and out of the lungs. Although cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, it also can occur in people who have never smoked. Lung cancer is one of the most challenging cancers to treat, but if diagnosed and treated in the earliest stages, five-year survival rates can be over 80 percent.

There are essentially two types of lung cancer, which are treated differently:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer: Most lung cancers, about 87 percent, are non-small cell lung cancers. This type spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer.
  • Small cell lung cancer: About 13 percent of lung cancers are small cell lung cancers. This type tends to spread quickly.

The UC Davis Health System general thoracic surgery team, which is part of the National Cancer Center Designated UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, provides expansive services for the surgical treatment of non-cardiac benign and malignant diseases of the chest, including the lungs, esophagus, chest wall, airway, mediastinum (the central compartment of the chest) and diaphragm. Many therapies at UC Davis are performed using minimally invasive techniques.

Lung cancer treatment decisions depend on the type of cancer, how far it has spread and the general health of the patient. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of these may be necessary. Surgical options include:

  • Pneumonectomy: This is the removal of one entire lung.
  • Lobectomy: This is the removal of an entire lobe of the lung. There are two lobes in the left lung and three lobes in the right lung.
  • Segmentectomy: The removal of a part of a lobe.
  • Sleeve resection: The removal of part of the lung and air tubes (trachea or bronchi), and then reconnection of the remaining healthy sections. This procedure is done to avoid a pneumonectomy.

Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS)
Depending on the location and stage of the cancer, surgeons may perform an open-chest procedure or a less invasive surgical technique, such as video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS). VATS is a minimally invasive technology that uses 3-4 one- to two-inch incisions to remove early stage lung cancers, drain excess fluid, and treat pleural infections. VATS lung surgery has resulted in reduced post-operative complications, less pain and shorter hospital stays for patients as compared to traditional open lung surgery. Only 25 percent of the lung resections in the country are performed by VATS. UC Davis Medical Center is a leader in VATS and was the first Northern California academic center to extensively use VATS to perform pulmonary resections for early stage lung cancer.

Research has shown that patients may not do well after complex surgery because of failure of their hospital to “rescue” them from complications. UC Davis has developed a detailed post-operative lung surgery recovery regimen and has a highly skilled nursing team trained in swiftly identifying and managing potential postoperative complications.

Kim AW, Cooke DT. Additional pulmonary nodules in the patient with lung cancer: controversies and challenges. Clinics in Chest Medicine. 2011 Dec; 32(4):811-25.

Cooke, David T., Nguyen, Danh V., Yang, Ying, Chen, Steven L., Yu, Cindy, Calhoun, Royce F. Survival comparison of adenosquamous, squamous cell, and adenocarcinoma of the lung after lobectomy. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2010 Sept.; 90(3):943-8.

Cooke DT, Pagani FD, Kaul DR, Cooke KR, Lau CL, Riddell J IV. Successful treatment of pulmonary zygomycosis in two transplant recipients with liposomal amphoteric B and partial surgical resection followed by posaconazole. Mycoses. 2010 March; 1;53(2):163-7.

Evans K, Calhoun RF, Black H, Cooke DT. Disseminated primary coccidioidomycosis of the chest wall. Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 2010 Nov.;140(5):e78-9.

Cooke DT, Zheng DJ, Peterson KA, Calhoun RF 2nd. Synchronous pulmonary renal cell carcinoma metastases and primary non-small cell lung cancer. Journal of Thoracic Oncology. 2010 Jan.;5(1):140-1.

Oncologists Specializing in Lung Cancer

Surgical Oncology / Thoracic Surgery

David CookeDavid Tom Cooke, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Associate Professor and Section Chief, General Thoracic Surgery
Associate Program Director, Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency

Lisa Brown, M.D., MASLisa M. Brown, M.D., MAS
Assistant Professor of Thoracic Surgery

Luis Godoy, M.D. Luis Godoy, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Thoracic Surgery
Division of Thoracic Surgery

Thoracic Surgery Nurse Coordinator
Valerie Kuderer, R.N.

Physician Assistants
Jessica Harvey-Taylor, PA-C
Felicia Tanner-Corbett, PA-C

Contact Us:
Physician to Physician Referrals
1-800-4-UCDAVIS (1-800-482-3284)

General Thoracic Surgery Direct Clinical Line (Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Email (non-urgent):

Social Media:

Twitter: Twitter@UCD_ChestHealth

Hematology and Oncology

David Gandara, M.D.David R. Gandara, M.D.
Associate Director for Clinical Research, UC Davis Cancer Center
Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology
Director, Thoracic Oncology Program

Karen Kelly, M.D.Karen Kelly, M.D.
Professor of Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology
Associate Director for Clinical Research
Phase I Clinical Director

Primo Lara, Jr., M.D.Primo N. Lara, Jr., M.D.
Professor of Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology
Director, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Tianhong Li, M.D., Ph.D.Tianhong Li, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology

Jonathan Riess, M.D., M.S.Jonathan Riess, M.D., M.S.
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology

Pulmonary Medicine

Nicholas Stollenwerk, M.D.Nicholas Stollenwerk, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care

Ken Yoneda, M.D.Ken Y. Yoneda, M.D.
Professor of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care

Diagnostic Radiology

Ramsey Badawi, Ph.D.Ramsey Badawi, Ph.D.
Professor of Radiology 
Director of Nuclear Medicine Research

Elizabeth H. Moore, M.D.Elizabeth H. Moore, M.D.
Professor of Radiology

Radiation Oncology

Megan Daly, M.D.Megan Daly, M.D.
Assistant Professor

Ruben Fragoso, M.D., Ph.D.Ruben Fragoso, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Shyam Rao, M.D., Ph.D.Shyam Rao, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor


Danielle BahamDanielle Baham, M.S., R.D.

Kathleen NewmanKathleen Newman, R.D., C.S.O.

Genetic Counselors

Kellie BrownKellie Brown, M.Sc., L.G.C.

Nicole Mans, M.S., L.C.G.C.Nicole Mans, M.S., L.C.G.C.

Jeanna Welborn, M.D.Jeanna Welborn, M.D.

Social Work

Sara Chavez, LCSW, OSW-C, ACHP-SWSara Chavez, L.C.S.W., O.S.W.-C., A.C.H.P.-S.W.