Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States. In an effort to raise awareness and improve outcomes for lung cancer patients worldwide, a special coalition deemed November Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
In 2020, lung cancer was projected to cause nearly as many deaths as breast, colorectal and pancreatic cancers combined. Though when detected early, the likelihood of surviving five or more years improves to 59%.
“Studies have shown that screening high-risk patients can help find lung cancer before symptoms appear,” said Tufik Assad, M.D., interventional pulmonologist and director of critical care at Williamson Medical Center (WMC). “When caught early, lung cancer is easier to treat.”
Dr. Assad is also WMC’s cancer physician liaison for the Commission on Cancer as well as the medical director of Williamson Medical Group’s (WMG) lung nodule program, a screening program designed to identify abnormal nodules in patients’ lungs through low-dose CT screening.
“Low-dose CT screening is quick, painless and convenient,” said Assad. “These scans can detect even small lung cancers that are not visible on chest X-rays, and may reveal other lung diseases as well.”
WMC offers a range of screening and treatment options in the heart of Williamson County. Dr. Assad, along with interventional pulmonologist, Devin Sherman, M.D., provide advanced bronchoscopy services using endobronchial ultrasound, as well as navigational bronchoscopy.
“Navigational bronchoscopy uses a patient CT scan to create a digital map of the airways, allowing us to use instruments to access nodules distantly located in the lung,” said Sherman. “We are the only center in Middle Tennessee that uses the Veran navigation platform. Unlike other technologies, this platform allows us to biopsy nodules both through a scope in the airways as well as through the skin, all during a single procedure.”
The WMC lung screening team also includes a dedicated oncology and lung navigator, Cary Ralph, RN. In her role, Ralph individualizes a diagnostic and treatment plan for each patient, which includes addressing their barriers to care, counseling on recommended testing, educating them on their final diagnosis and supporting them through the complicated psychosocial stressors of their illness.
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