Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Part of the reason for this is that those with lung cancer don’t show symptoms in the early stage when they have the best chance at survival. This underscores the importance of diagnosing and treating thoracic cancers – cancers of the chest, which include lung cancer – quickly and precisely.
The Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University works to detect lung cancer quickly and precisely by offering low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans, which are painless and take about 10 to 30 minutes. They combine a series of images taken from different angles into one image that shows a slice of the part of the body being screened. This allows physicians to see a certain part of the body without having to cut into it.
“If we find the cancer early, then we can treat it with minimally invasive surgery,” said Dr. Carsten Schroeder, director of the Georgia Cancer Center thoracic oncology surgery service. “Detecting lung cancer early is the best way to increase survival of this deadly disease.”
Do I need to be screened?
About 90 percent of all lung cancers are related to smoking and tobacco use, and it’s estimated that one in nine smokers will develop lung cancer at some point.
In order to determine whether or not you should be screened, ask yourself the following:
- Am I:
- 55-80 years old;
- A current smoker or have quit within the past 15 years; and
- Have smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 or more years;
- 50-80 years old;
- Have smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 or more years; and
- Have additional lung cancer risks listed here: augusta.edu/cancer/lung-screening.
Treating the biggest cancer killer with the smallest incisions
For those who are diagnosed with lung cancer, the Georgia Cancer Center offers a minimally invasive option called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (aka VATS). Schroeder performs most operations using this technique.
Minimally invasive surgery is performed with small incisions and offers the following benefits to patients:
- Increased safety with less trauma and blood loss
- Less time spent in the hospital
- Faster recovery
- Fewer complications
A multi-disciplinary team approach
The Georgia Cancer Center takes a multi-disciplinary approach to patient care, with the goal being to follow patients through the continuum of care. Those who have been diagnosed with lung cancer work with a thoracic multi-disciplinary team, with Schroeder serving as the surgeon, in addition to a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, pathologist, radiologist and nurse navigator.
The thoracic multi-disciplinary team provides personalized care for every type and stage of lung cancer and other cancers of the chest, including lungs, esophagus, trachea, chest wall, pulmonary system, mesothelioma and thymomas.