Compassionate Cancer Care

The cancer services team at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana utilizes cutting-edge medical technology to save lives and improve treatment options.

  • Category
    Health, People
  • Written by
    Laura L. Watts
  • Photographed by
    Tameka Jacobs

Founded in 1973 with the mission of providing care to all in need, Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana has been serving the San Fernando Valley and surrounding communities for nearly 50 years. Their dedicated teams focus on excellence and compassion in all they do to serve their patients, the community and each other.

Offering a wide range of medical services, the hospital’s cancer care team makes Providence the top choice for local oncology patients. They are nationally accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Integrated Network Cancer Program, and the staff, physicians and nurses work tirelessly to care for every patient’s physical, emotional, medical and spiritual well-being.

Home to some of the top medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgeons in the Los Angeles area, Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center provides the San Fernando Valley access to top-quality care for most cancers, including breast, colorectal, gynecological, head and neck, leukemia, lung, lymphoma, ovarian, prostate, rectal and urologic. Andrew Brownlee, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana, specializes in thoracic surgical oncology—specifically minimally invasive lung, esophageal and mediastinal surgery as well as endobronchial approaches to diagnosis and staging of thoracic malignancies.

“I chose to go into thoracic surgery because I saw there was a huge opportunity to improve the quality of life of patients with thoracic malignancies by identifying and curing cancers that are otherwise very deadly,” he shares. “I was also drawn to working in a field where technology and advancements are allowing us to improve the quality of care of patients.”

One of those advancements is robotic surgery, along with robotic-assisted diagnostic procedures. “We are now able to routinely remove lung cancers with the surgical robot,” says Dr. Brownlee. “This device allows us to perform a surgery through small incisions with heightened dexterity and visualization. This means a patient can get the same or better operation but have small incisions, much less pain, a shorter recovery and fewer complications.”

“The most rewarding part about my work is being able to offer patients new and promising treatments that can prolong or improve their lives with cancer—or even cure them entirely.”

Dr. Brownlee and his colleagues use another robot for lung biopsies, allowing them to navigate to areas of the lung that were previously difficult to reach. The robot accomplishes this through the airways, so no incisions are needed and the entire process can be completed in one day.

Previously a patient who had a lung nodule would be referred to a surgeon and possibly an oncologist, and then would be scheduled for a biopsy. Once the biopsy was done, the patient might need additional procedures to stage the cancer. If the cancer was deemed resectable, the patient would be scheduled for a lung resection. The whole process of seeing two or three doctors and potentially undergoing three procedures can take more than a month. 

Now, exclusively using minimally invasive techniques and the robotic platform, the  Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana team can perform all of this in a single day. While the patient is under general anesthesia, the medical team goes through the airway to biopsy the nodule or mass. If the biopsies come back as cancer, they use ultrasound to test the lymph nodes in the chest while the patient is still asleep. This process gives a diagnosis and identifies the cancer stage. Afterward they remove the cancerous part of the lung. 

Combining the procedures reduces wait times, cost and patient distress while awaiting results. It also reduces the number of anesthesia events to one. A patient can now go to sleep and wake up with a diagnosis and treatment already completed. 

These cutting-edge services have been made possible thanks to the hospital’s large investments in the latest medical technology—which makes Dr. Brownlee’s work very gratifying. “The most rewarding part about my work is being able to offer patients new and promising treatments that can prolong or improve their lives with cancer—or even cure them entirely,” he says.

The surgeons and oncologists at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center work alongside nutritionists, case managers, social workers, rehabilitation experts and physical therapists to make sure each patient receives the highest quality and most comprehensive care possible. The inpatient cancer unit is staffed by compassionate nurses certified by the Oncological Nursing Society. With years of experience treating cancer patients, they provide unmatched care and advocacy for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center sees more than a cancer patient. They see the life each patient is fighting for, and they make it their mission to provide cutting-edge medicine and exceptional individual care with unwavering compassion and personalization.

Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center

18321 Clark St., Tarzana  |  818-881-0800  |