Team approach to treatment and follow-up is the norm
Several hundred thousand Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. For those patients, rapid access to individualized care is the most important factor in treating the disease.
But when you think about all the medical specialty areas involved in lung cancer treatment, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Cancer physicians (oncologists), as well as pulmonologists (lung specialists), primary care physicians, radiologists, and others, depending on the patient’s condition, may need to be involved.
At Bayhealth, we’ve found that the best way to start is to get all these people in the same room. Every two weeks, this group of caregivers meets at the Multi-Disciplinary Lung Cancer Conference to review and discuss patients.
“We look at each patient’s case from all angles and create the best possible treatment plan as a team. Everyone’s opinion matters,” said Paul Fedalen, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon and co-chair of the Kent General Lung Cancer Conference.
Because lung function and heart function are closely connected, any procedure done to the lungs will affect the heart’s ability to pump blood through the body. It’s essential to make sure that a patient’s heart is strong enough to withstand surgery.
Lifestyle factors, medical history, and other important details also play a role in treatment decisions.
The Lung Tumor Conference ensures that each provider who may care for the patient throughout the process is included in the conversation from the beginning.
“Lung cancer used to be treated primarily by a surgeon, who acted in isolation,” Fedalen explained. “Now, we recognize that cancer impacts the entire body and we need to hear from all members of the care team.”
Once a patient has concluded treatment, which can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination, Bayhealth’s new lung cancer survivorship program comes into play.
In this program, nurse navigators guide patients through post-treatment care. The goal is to help them enjoy full and productive lives after life-changing cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Many of the 10 million cancer survivors in the U.S. do not have access to specialized survivorship care.
Prevention is the most important way to slow the rates of lung cancer in the U.S. Nearly 25% of the US population actively smokes. This behavior impacts an even larger group due to the effects of secondhand smoke.
For more information on lung cancer or tobacco cessation, visit bayhealth.org.