Lung cancer kills more Americans each year than any other cancer, but doctors say early detection can make the difference between life and death.
Beaumont Hospital, Trenton recently opened a new Lung Nodule Clinic to provide early diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of abnormal pulmonary nodules, which are often discovered as a result of CT scans or chest X-rays for other health conditions. A pulmonary nodule is a round or oval shaped growth in the lung, sometimes referred to as a lesion or spot on the lung.
While lung nodules can be noncancerous, they may be an early sign of lung cancer or indicate that a cancer is spreading throughout the body.
Clinic services include:
- Annual low-dose screening for lung cancer
- A nurse navigator
- Prompt communication with the patient’s primary care physician
- Immediate patient consultation and treatment options for any lung cancer diagnosis
Pulmonologist and medical co-director of Beaumont’s fifth lung nodule clinic, Dr. Hazlem Raslan said, ”It can take weeks or months for a patient with an abnormal scan to come to the first diagnostic stage. Our clinic’s state-of-the-art technology can dramatically accelerate the diagnostic process.”
The clinic’s technology allows the medical team to do a real-time evaluation inside the lung. It aids in diagnosing early stage nodules that may be cancerous.
Causes of lung nodules include tuberculosis; rheumatoid arthritis and sarcoidosis – an inflammation that affects multiple organs, most commonly the lung, lymph nodes and cancer. Fungal infections have also been linked to the appearance of lung nodules.
Pulmonologist and clinic medical co-director, Dr. Abdulrazak Alchakaki said, “The size and shape make a difference. Smaller nodules may require monitoring, but larger nodules could result in a biopsy.”
When lung nodules are identified, a nurse navigator will begin communicating with the patient and his or her primary care physician, followed by a consultation with a pulmonologist.
“We work together to guide the patient through the recommended next steps, which could involve treatment by a team of physicians, including thoracic and pulmonary specialists,” Dr. Raslan explained.
The multidisciplinary lung nodule clinic includes specialists – pulmonologists, oncologists, thoracic surgeons, radiation oncologists, radiologists and pathologists, who are also involved with the tumor board. The tumor board reviews individual cases and imaging studies. They discuss alternate treatment options and talk about clinical trials for which the patient may be eligible.
Current smokers, especially those who have been smoking for many years, or people with a history of cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease are at a higher risk of lung nodules. They should be screened annually.
“In about 15 minutes, a dedicated, low-dose CT scan can cover the entire chest and provide a more detailed look than a standard chest X-ray,” said Dr. Alchakaki.
To make an appointment at the new Beaumont,Trenton Lung Nodule Clinic, call 877-805-8647.