PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Collaboration is an essential for advancing medicine.
Temple Health and Fox Chase Cancer Center recently began a collaboration aimed at pushing the survival envelope in lung cancer.
"Even in the metastatic setting, we are able to cure a few of our patients. But I think the percentages are way too low. And that's unacceptable," says Dr. Hossein Borghaei, chair of thoracic medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center.
In his time at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Dr. Borghaei has seen many new drugs extend the lives for lung cancer patients.
And at the Temple Lung Center, Dr. Joseph Friedberg, chair of thoracic surgery, is developing new surgical techniques.
"Every patient is different, and it's always a bit of a puzzle," says Dr. Friedberg.
Now the two hospitals are using a new tactic - a joint tumor board - to advance lung cancer treatment.
Tumor boards are groups of doctors and other specialists who meet regularly.
"They all hear the case, look at the films and then weigh in on what would be the appropriate options," says Dr. Friedberg.
Meetings at each hospital normally have about 20 experts.
But joint meetings have up to 80 experts, from a wider range of specialties.
"We have surgeons, we have medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, social work, clinical trial coordinators," says Dr. Borghaei.
Trainees, such as residents and fellows, and nurses and nurse practitioners also bring their expertise.
"Rarely, at least in cancer, is it just sort of a black and white, a cut-and-dried decision tree," says Dr. Friedberg.
"It is very common for us to have a very innovative and interesting idea put on the table," notes Dr. Borghaei.
And the discussions can inspire younger doctors.
"These types of questions can become very important research projects," says Dr. Borghaei.
The doctors hope the joint tumor board becomes a model for other cancer centers across the country.
"I've been part of tumor boards before, but I've never been part of one quite as spectacular at this," notes Dr. Friedberg.
Dr. Borghaei adds, "It's a very exciting time to be a lung cancer investigator. It's a very hopeful time, but we still have a lot of work to do."
The doctors also say that involving so many specialties helps everyone keep up with the fast-changing science of cancer.