Moving from 20 Percent to 80 Percent

Moving from 20 Percent to 80 Percent

Published in: Huntsville Hospital Source Magazine, Fall 2013

New alliance aims to turn the table on lung cancer

Until there is a cure for cancer, it remains the most dreaded of diagnoses. “You have cancer” is the news that no one wants to receive. There are major advances being made in treating various malignancies, and in nearly every case, the key is early detection. Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in American with more than 200,000 diagnoses each year. More people die from lung cancer than from the new four cancer combined. The survival rate is only 20 percent. Why?

20-percent-to-80-cohenDr. Evan Cohen, a thoracic surgeon with Heart Center, Inc. says it’s due in part to delayed diagnosis. “Many people wait too late to get checked. If lung cancer is diagnosed in State I, the survival rate goes up to 80 percent,” Cohen said.

Dr. Cohen and Dr. Marshall Schreeder, a medical oncologist with Clearview Cancer Institute (CCI), are participating in a new effort called the Alliance for Lung Cancer Excellence, a multi-disciplinary initiative that includes local pulmonologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, thoracic surgeons and pathologists. The goal is to turn the table on lung cancer in North Alabama.

20-percent-to-80-schreeder“We have to increase awareness of new screening tools that can help us identify lung cancer in the early, treatable stages. We want to see survival rates at 80 percent,” Cohen said. More than 550 lung cancer cases are diagnosed each year in Huntsville and the surrounding area, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Schreeder called the effort a “virtual clinic,” which he said would be monitored for timeliness and effective coordination of diagnosis and treatment. “Coordination of diagnosis and treatment across disciplines is just as important as the timeliness of it,” he said. Eventually, he said, the alliance will study outcomes in order to determine the best protocols for treatment. “I think our patients will appreciate our level of commitment to their care,” said Schreeder.

To read the entire article in the Fall 2013 Issue of Source Magazine, click here. Source Magazine is published by Huntsville Hospital and Huntsville Hospital Foundation and is distributed quarterly through the Huntsville Times.