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Stacey Su, M.D.
You might be surprised to learn that lung cancer is the number-one cause of cancer deaths in the United States for both men and women. In fact, the American Cancer Society reports that more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
The key to beating lung cancer is early detection. Just ask Aston resident Ron Goryl, whose life was saved thanks in part to the Crozer-Keystone Health System’s lung screening program for at-risk individuals.
A long-time smoker who was approaching his 72nd birthday, the retired Pennsylvania State Police officer underwent a screening at the Media Medical Imaging facility in November 2013. The screening revealed a small, dark nodule that, after a follow-up PET scan, was determined to be Stage 1 lung cancer. Less than one month later, Crozer-Keystone thoracic surgeon Stacey Su, M.D., was performing surgery.
“Dr. Su explained everything and made me feel confident that something could be done to beat this cancer,” Goryl says. “She gave me and my wife peace of mind.”
Furthermore, Goryl found out in February that, thanks to the early detection and quick response, chemotherapy would not be necessary. “What a relief that is,” he says.
The American Cancer Society estimates that, this year in the United States, more than 224,000 new cases of lung cancer will be reported and about 159,000 deaths will result, accounting for more than one-fourth of all cancer deaths. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation for incidence of lung cancer.
Overall, the chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 13; for a woman, it’s about 1 in 16. Smokers are definitely most at risk, but links have also been made to certain environmental factors such as radon in the home.
Crozer-Keystone’s lung screening program [lungscreening.crozerkeystone.org] targets individuals most likely to develop lung cancer – generally, men and women between the ages of 55 and 80 who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or who have quit within the past 15 years. For $125, the individual is given a low-dose CT scan that can pick up nodules as small as four millimeters or less.
Since the program was launched in November 2012, Crozer-Keystone has screened more than 100 individuals. About half of the screenings found abnormalities, and two individuals tested positive for lung cancer.
“There is an institutional commitment here to make sure that this program is successful,” says Dr. Su, who is a thoracic surgeon at Fox Chase Cancer Center and Director of Thoracic Surgical Oncology at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, one of the founding hospitals of the Crozer-Keystone Health System. “It’s one of the health system’s main objectives – targeting lung cancer … and giving patients hope. A lot of effort and commitment is being put forth by the administration as well as the physicians and care providers.”
In Ron Goryl’s case, he returned from vacation last fall with a slight cough. His primary-care doctor referred him for the CT scan, and from there, he went to Crozer-Keystone’s Springfield Hospital for a PET scan.
“The whole purpose of the screening is to catch early-stage cancers before they show symptoms,” Dr. Su explains. “With Mr. Goryl, he was essentially asymptomatic, so without the screening, the mass would have just continued to grow ...”
On December 11, Goryl was already in Dr. Su’s operating room. Since his was a Stage 1 cancer with a fairly small tumor of about 1.5 centimeters, he required only a minimally invasive procedure to remove a lobe of the lung a few small incisions.
“Dr. Su made me feel so comfortable, like I was going to get a tooth filled,” Goryl says. “I trusted her, I believed in her.”
Goryl adds, “I had excellent care from everyone during the whole process, from diagnosis to treatment and through recovery.”
Highly skilled primary-care doctors and board-certified specialists in the Crozer-Keystone Health System work together toward providing the best, most individualized patient care. In addition, Crozer-Keystone, in partnership with Fox Chase Cancer Center, gives patients broad access to new clinical trials and programs related to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
As Dr. Su notes, “The program itself is more than just the initial CT scan. It’s the patient receiving the care of a team of multidisciplinary experts, getting counseled and being helped every step of the way.”
Goryl can’t say enough about “Nurse Navigator” Patti Hollenback, R.N., B.S.N., OCN. Hollenback was in touch with him following the first screening, and helped Goryl and his wife, Beverly, schedule each step of the treatment process. “When we found out that something needed to be done, our first reaction was that we didn’t know where to go or what to do,” Goryl says. “But then the Nurse Navigator called and took care of everything; I didn’t have time to even think about it, she made it so easy.”
Crozer-Keystone also offers other services, such as smoking cessation support and access to the “60 for 60” program at the Healthplex Sports Club in Springfield, where, for $60 over 60 days, certified exercise specialists and oncology nurses are available to work with cancer patients and survivors.
Goryl recommends that anyone at high risk of developing lung cancer take advantage of the Crozer-Keystone lung screening program. “When I was smoking, I knew what cancer could do to you, but I told myself it was one of those things that’s not going to happen to me, it’s going to happen to the other guy,” Goryl says.
“Well, anybody can be that other guy.”
Crozer-Keystone offers six locations throughout Delaware County where patients can receive a CT scan.
For more information or to make a referral, call 1-866-5-CK-XRAY (1-866-525-9729).
If you have concerns about your lung health, call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258)
for a referral to a Crozer-Keystone physician. lungscreening.crozerkeystone.org