Lung cancer is responsible for more cancer-related deaths in both men and women in the United States than the next three most common cancers combined (colon, breast and pancreatic). According to the American Cancer Society, almost 220,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, with tobacco use being a major risk factor in the development of this cancer. However, early detection through screenings and treatment can decrease mortality rates and save lives.
In response, Baptist Health System has created the South Texas Lung Institute to provide the south Texas region with a high-quality, well-coordinated lung cancer treatment program. The institute is the premier center for the diagnosis and treatment of lung disease and lung cancer. As the first health system to operate this type of center in south Texas, Baptist Health System has prompted the multidisciplinary collaboration of area physicians and healthcare resources to design a navigated program for lung disease and lung cancer patients.
At its core, the South Texas Lung Institute brings together pulmonologists, oncologists, surgeons, pathologists and primary care physicians to work collaboratively with St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital to provide highly coordinated lung cancer treatment for members of the community.
“The navigation aspect of this program is a critical component to ensuring successful patient care,” says John Knox, St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital President. “With one phone call to the program, high-risk patients are assigned to a patient navigator and are given the help they need to gain access to a host of treatment resources in a timely fashion.”
If the patient meets the initial screening criteria, the institute’s patient navigator will schedule an appointment that consists of a low-dose, non-contrast CT scan. Screening criteria is based on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines, which considers the following individuals to be at risk:
- People 55–74 years of age who have a history of smoking the equivalent or greater than 30 pack-years (a pack-year is the number of cigarette packs smoked every day multiplied by the number of years of smoking). Ex-smokers must have quit within the last 15 years.
- People age 50 or older who have a history equal to or greater than 20 pack-years and have one of the following additional risk factors:
- Diagnosis of COPD or pulmonary fibrosis
- Radon exposure
- Occupational exposures, such as asbestos, silica, cadmium, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, diesel fumes or nickel
- Personal history of cancer or family history of cancer
Copies of the screening results will be sent to the referring primary care physician and the institute’s navigator. Depending on the patient’s diagnosis, the patient navigator will then guide the patient through his or her entire treatment, working with the patient’s specialists and primary care physician to recommend next steps of care if needed. Excellent, timely communication with a patient’s referring physician is the hallmark of the institute as it works to save lives in the community.
For more information on the patient services available at the South Texas Lung Institute, call 210-297-LUNG or visit www.southtexaslunginstitute.com.