Moving lung cancer care in the right direction

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Lung Cancer Clinic takes a team approach to detection and treatment

“Early detection and advances in how we treat lung cancer are moving us in the right direction,” says pulmonologist Muhammad Anwer, MD.

Dr. Anwer of UnityPoint Clinic® Multi-Specialty – Cedar Rapids is part of the Nassif Community Cancer Center Lung Cancer Clinic—a team approach to detecting, diagnosing and treating lung cancer. Pulmonologists, oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, and radiation oncologists, as well as care coordinators from the Nassif Community Cancer Center, work together for the best possible outcome for every patient, every time.

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women—and the leading cause of cancer death. “The problem with lung cancer,” explains Dr. Anwer, “is by the time you have symptoms, generally the cancer is very advanced.”

Today early detection is helping doctors save lives. “We’ve diagnosed some patients at stage one,” says Dr. Anwer. “Their cancer was so small we could treat it with just radiation therapy. If diagnosis had been delayed a year, things could be very different.”

Dr. Anwer credits St. Luke’s Lung Check with helping to catch cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage. An accredited program of UnityPoint Health® – St. Luke’s Hospital and Nassif Community Cancer Center, Lung Check is a non-invasive test that uses low-dose X-rays to provide a detailed image of the lungs.

“We target a group of the population age 55 to 74 who have a strong history of smoking,” says Dr. Anwer. “We look for tiny nodules that could indicate cancer.”

If a nodule is detected and follow-up tests confirm it is cancer, Dr. Anwer brings the patient in to explain the diagnosis and treatment options. The patient also meets with a care coordinator from the Nassif Community Cancer Center. “The care coordinators are amazing!” says Dr. Anwer. “If patients have questions, they call the coordinator and she takes care of it. It’s so easy for patients to have one number to call for everything.”

Dr. Anwer says coordination is important because teamwork is essential in treating lung cancer. Pulmonologists, oncologists, and radiation oncologists meet every week to review all lung cancer cases. “We share our expertise with one another. If the patient isn’t progressing and we need to change the treatment plan, the care coordinator helps us get the patient in quickly.”

Dr. Anwer adds, “Our goal is to get the patient from diagnosis to the start of treatment within two weeks. In most hospitals, it’s nearly impossible to do that. But the level of care here is so good, there’s no reason to leave town.”

For more information on the Lung Check screening or other services through the Lung Care Clinic, call (319) 558-4876.

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