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Johns Hopkins Health - Centralized Expertise

Winter 2012
Issue No. 15

Centralized Expertise

Date: January 12, 2012

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Early diagnosis and coordinated care make  all the difference in lung cancer treatment

Lung cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed yet deadliest forms of cancer. The challenge is that the disease often isn’t detected as early as it could be. Then, determining and implementing the best combination and order of treatment—chemotherapy, radiation, surgery—can sometimes be a slow process.

That’s not the case at a comprehensive cancer center like Johns Hopkins, where a team of lung cancer specialists coordinates care. Each patient receives an accurate diagnosis and an innovative combination of therapies and treatments quickly, which can improve results.

A key component of the center is a one-day clinic that gives patients newly diagnosed with lung cancer access to every related specialist they need.

“Instead of hopping from one clinic to another over a week or two, patients will get everything done in 24 hours,” says Russell Hales, M.D., a radiation oncologist and clinical director of the clinic.

Patients receive all the necessary tests to complete the staging of their tumor, along with a complete medical assessment. They also learn about their condition, how to stay healthy during treatment and opportunities to participate in clinical trials.

A team of about 15 specialists reviews each case and comes to a united decision about the best path forward for each patient. The multidisciplinary team includes thoracic surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, interventional pulmonologists, nurses and social workers.

“These are highly specialized experts working together on each patient’s care,” Hales says.

The center also offers screenings for people at high risk of developing lung cancer. A recent study showed that computed tomography (CT) scans can better detect lung cancer. These screenings are appropriate for people ages 55 to 74 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years. Hales says the decision to have the screening should be made in consultation with a specialist.

Lung Cancer Facts and Risk Factors

  • There are more than 400,000 lung cancer survivors in the U.S. today, according to the American Cancer Society. But nearly 200,000 people are newly diagnosed each year.
  • Although some lung cancers develop in people without any clear risk factors, smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. A majority of lung cancer deaths occur in smokers.
  • Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to lower your risk of lung cancer, along with avoiding secondhand smoke.
  • Radon and certain chemicals can cause lung cancer, so it’s smart to test your home for radon and avoid cancer-causing chemicals—or at least protect yourself against them if you’re exposed at work.
  • There is some evidence that a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables may help prevent lung cancer.

Watch this Video
Lung cancer is frequently detected when the disease has progressed, making it a frightening diagnosis for patients. Watch Johns Hopkins oncologist Russell Hales, M.D., in a discussion of screening, diagnosis, staging and treatment for different kinds of lung cancer.

For more information, appointments or consultations, call 877-546-1872.

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