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News  ›  Cancer Care

Simple test spots lung cancer early

November 15, 2017

Raymond Weiand

For Raymond Weiand, getting a lung cancer screening at Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) last April was a lifesaving decision. Having smoked for 57 years, the retired salesman heeded his doctor’s advice to have his lungs checked, and he’s glad he did.

“I had no symptoms at all when I went in for my wellness check,” says Weiand, 71. “But with a little nurturing from my doctor, I went and got tested at the hospital.”

Weiand went to NCH for a low-dose CT scan, a fast and painless test that allows doctors to spot lung cancer early – when it’s most treatable. The test revealed a mass in his lung. To expedite Weiand’s care, Patient Navigator Juli Aistars, R.N., A.P.N., TTS, alerted the team of lung cancer experts at NCH, including specialists in interventional pulmonology, thoracic surgery, radiology, radiation oncology, pathology and medical oncology. Working in close concert, the team developed a detailed plan of care.

“Mr. Weiand’s care has been a truly multidisciplinary effort,” says Najeeb Mohideen, M.D., FASTRO, FACR, a Radiation Oncologist at NCH, a preferred screening site of the Lung Cancer Alliance. “Our team approach contributes to expedited, patient-centric care.”

Team approach

Weiand was immediately referred to Neeraj Desai, M.D., M.B.A., FACP, FCCP, an Interventional Pulmonologist at NCH. Dr. Desai evaluated him with a whole-body PET scan and a minimally invasive endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) to check if the cancer had spread.

“EBUS is a leading-edge procedure that allows us the most precise view of the lymph nodes and the ability to biopsy the site without making any incisions,” says Dr. Desai.

To further his healing journey, Weiand gave up smoking. Then in June he saw NCH Thoracic Surgeon Gary Chmielewski, M.D., who performed video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) to remove the tumor.

“Compared to traditional lung surgery, with VATS there is less pain, less blood loss and a shorter hospital stay,” says Dr. Chmielewski. “It is an excellent cancer operation.”

Weiand went home the day after surgery. The rest of his care plan involved six weeks of combined radiation and chemotherapy from Dr. Mohideen, and Hematologist and Oncologist Randy Rich, M.D. Weiand received image-guided conformal radiation, which precisely delivers radiation to the affected area, sparing surrounding healthy tissue.

“NCH’s Radiation Oncology Department is unbelievable,” says Weiand. “They go out of their way to make sure you have the best possible experience.”

Bright days ahead

With his treatment completed, Weiand already is planning a trip to Florida with family and friends, and he hopes to board a cruise ship to the Caribbean with his two grandsons next spring. He’s grateful for the support he received from the team at NCH.

“NCH has one great crew,” says Weiand. “They’ve got the right people in the right place.”

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Lower your risk

The National Lung Screening Trial showed that individuals screened with low-dose CT scans had a 20 percent lower risk of mortality from lung cancer than those who had standard chest X-rays.