The word "cancer," when used to describe your health or the health of a loved one, is terrifying. Pair that already scary word with the word "lung" and, until recently, that combination was pretty bleak. However, unlike even a decade ago, medical knowledge is now compounding every few years, so much so that a recent explosion in the understanding of cancer biology has affected every phase of lung cancer screening and surveillance. True to its mission, Englewood Health has stayed on the forefront of new research, proactively investing in technology that allows its team to deliver precise diagnoses and personalized care to lung cancer patients.
The first step in the effective treatment of any cancer is early detection, which is why doctors at Englewood Health recommend low-dose CT scans to screen for signs of lung cancer in at-risk patients before symptoms even present. This helps medical teams take advantage of the time when lung cancer, if present, is at its earliest and most treatable stage.
Lung cancer screenings are quick and painless, and are covered by most insurance plans for patients who meet eligibility criteria. Long-time current and former smokers who are now 55-80 and have a 30 pack-year smoking history (one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years) or have quit within the last 15 years are particularly vulnerable and should be screened early and often. Having a baseline for later comparison will help doctors detect changes year after year.
"Ten to 15 years ago—even five years ago—saying the words 'lung cancer' and 'cure' in the same sentence was rare," says Christos I. Stavropoulos, MD, director of thoracic oncology at Englewood Health. "Today there have been many advancements in lung cancer treatment that have greatly impacted survival rates. If we catch lung cancer early, we can potentially cure it. That is the number one reason why screening is so important. Early detection saves lives."
The good news is that most of what doctors find during your screenings will not be cause for immediate concern. The team at The Lefcourt Family Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center at Englewood Health has established a lung nodule treatment program to analyze your scans and monitor changes over time.
If and when lung cancer is detected, their team of thoracic surgeons and medical and radiation oncologists move quickly to intervene, customizing a treatment plan for each individual patient. Treatment may include minimally invasive or robotic surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy or immunotherapy to aid the immune system in fighting cancer and strengthen long-term responses. In addition, testing for gene mutations enables the lung cancer team to tailor treatment to each patient's specific disease and treat tumors based on their particular biology.
Now that's where you come in. In order to receive these life-extending or life-saving therapies, it's critical that you commit to regular visits with your primary care doctor so you can stay up to date on preventative measures, screening, and testing. Sometimes incidental findings can turn out to be significant. By maintaining regular communication with your physician and following up when necessary, you can collaborate to identify malignancies as early as possible.
If it's time for you to get screened, call 201-894-3640 to schedule an appointment in Englewood or Fair Lawn. Whatever the outcome, the doctors and specialists at Englewood Health will be in your corner with innovative imaging technologies and techniques, expert interpretation, advanced treatments, and consistent follow up. Their ultimate goal is to improve survival rates and quality of life for patients for whom a cure would not have been possible just a few years ago. That, and to stop "cancer" from being the scary word it is right now.
For more information, download Englewood Health's lung screening brochure.