Lung Check Credited with Saving Life

carlCarl Wittenburg is a long-time smoker. During a routine visit to see Dr. Michael Weston, UnityPoint Health – Jones Regional Medical Center – Monticello, it was recommended Wittenburg have a lung check screening to look for signs of lung cancer. The 66-year-old Monticello resident has smoked since he was 17.

The Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center and St. Luke’s Hospital developed an accredited Lung Check program several years ago. It is a screening to find cancer at its earliest state. Lung cancer remains a leading cause of cancer death in men and women and is typically diagnosed at a more advanced stage after the cancer has spread. By offering this test to specific individuals that are more at risk for lung cancer we are able to diagnose it at an earlier stage, making it easier to treat with less pain and a higher survival rate.

Lung Check consists of a low dose computed tomography (CT) scan of the lung where doctors look at the lung in detail. The goal is to do this check yearly.

“The results from my CT scan showed a spot on my lung,” shares Wittenburg. “I had a biopsy and was diagnosed with early stage lung cancer. The team at the Community Cancer Center recommended I have surgery.”

Each patient is discussed in a multidisciplinary lung conference, which includes radiologists, pathologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgeons to determine the best treatment because every patient is different.

Wittenburg had surgery to remove his lung cancer on March 5. Today he’s back working at his part-time job and is enjoying life in the country at his Monticello home. He’s looking forward to traveling in the coming days ahead.

“I’m moving past my cancer diagnosis,” says Wittenbrug. “I really love St. Luke’s and the Community Cancer Center – it’s a great team that is looking out for me and I feel so fortunate they found my cancer when they did. I hope my story inspires others to have the lung check – I’m glad I did.”

Commission on Cancer Accredited Cancer Program

When you choose to have your lung cancer treatment at the Community Cancer Center, you can feel confident in your choice because you have a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals caring for you from UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa and other local independent healthcare providers – together they form the Community Cancer Center. St. Luke’s is a Commission on Cancer (CoC) accredited cancer program. The CoC requires its accredited cancer programs to treat cancer patients according to nationally accepted quality improvement measures indicated by the CoC quality reporting tool. The Community Cancer Center follows these measures, ensuring a multidisciplinary team approach is used – involving a surgeon, medical and radiation oncologist, radiologist, nurse, social worker and others to meet and discuss each case and then works together to make treatment recommendations using specific guidelines for each patient.

This extensive team assists each individual before and after their care to assure patients are able to complete their treatment and develop a healthy lifestyle. To learn more about some of the free wellness programs at the cancer center, click here.

Lung Cancer Outcomes at the Community Cancer Center

  • 449 lung check screenings completed in 2017
  • Since the Lung Check program began in 2013 nearly 30 patients have been diagnosed with early stage lung cancer
  • 91 percent of lung cancer cases diagnosed at St. Luke’s in 2017 were reviewed at multidisciplinary care conference
  • 39 percent of all patients diagnosed through the Community Cancer Center are Stage 1 compared to 27 percent for other hospitals in the state. *

*National Cancer Database 2015

Who should get a Lung Check?

  • Men and women between the ages of 55 and 77
  • Individuals that smoked at least one pack a day for 30 years or more and or two packs a day for 15 years
  • Those who quit smoking less than 15 years ago and smoked one or more packs a day for 15 or more years

Don’t delay. Lung cancer can be diagnosed and treated with early screening and detection.

Smoking cessation help

If you’d like help to quit smoking – we have a dedicated team of smoking cessation experts available to assist you. To schedule your Lung Check appointment or for help with smoking cessation, call the Community Cancer Center at (319) 558-4876.

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