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Interior Cancer Journal

Memorial Hermann Launches a South Region Lung Program Focused on Early Detection

Lung cancer, both small cell and non-small cell, is the second most common cancer in both men and women, after prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women. Only skin cancer is more common, according to the American Cancer Society. For patients at high risk of developing lung cancer, Memorial Hermann now offers Low-Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT), an effective screening tool, at multiple locations throughout the Greater Houston area.

In conjunction with the screening program, Memorial Hermann recently launched a South Region Lung Program for cancer patients, with a multidisciplinary lung tumor board and a dedicated Oncology Nurse Navigator serving Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital, Memorial Hermann Pearland Hospital and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. “From screening through diagnosis, treatment and survivorship, we work with patients individually to help them overcome barriers to healthcare access and ensure as positive an experience as possible,” says Deidra Teoh, RN, OCN, who has been an Oncology Nurse Navigator since 2011 and rejoined Memorial Hermann in July 2016. “We’re pleased to offer patients an innovative way to get answers to their questions about their personal care based on opinions from a large multidisciplinary team of physicians representing three hospitals.”

Pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and pathologists who specialize in lung malignancies come together on the first and third Tuesdays of the month to review cases and recommend treatment plans. The meeting location for the tumor board rotates through the three hospitals on a quarterly basis, with Internet access for specialists whose clinic and surgery schedules prohibit travel to another hospital.

The South Region Lung Program is a pilot for future expansion of a solid lung tumor program at Memorial Hermann hospitals across the city. “The strength in this approach is the large number of physicians who bring their expertise to bear in discussions of pulmonary cancer cases,” says Melissa Mielcarek, director of business development at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. “At baseline, we’ll have at least three physicians from each campus involved on a case, giving patients the benefits of great depth and expertise, as well as the opportunity to have their cases viewed from many different angles.”

The focus of the program is on early detection. In 2015, Memorial Hermann performed more than 250 low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screenings at Imaging Centers across the Memorial Hermann Health System. LDCT screenings are available at multiple locations throughout Greater Houston. Lung nurse navigators are available to assist patients with scheduling, physician referrals and follow-up for abnormal findings.

A physician order is required for an LDCT lung screening. “When a physician orders a lung screen, Deidra is notified to call the patient and track results,” Mielcarek says. “If the screen is positive, she talks to the physician who ordered it and helps navigate the patient through the healthcare system.”

Patients who have a physician order for a screen may call the screening location nearest them to schedule the test, or schedule online.