Latest news on symptoms, screening and multidisciplinary treatments


Here’s what is well established about lung cancer: About 80% of cases are related to smoking, including current smokers and former smokers. The roughly 20 percent of cases among non-smokers or never smokers are a bit of a mystery, but growing evidence suggests a genetic predisposition to lung cancer.

While the majority of lung cancer cases are still detected in advanced stages, treatment has evolved to such an extent that more lives are being prolonged or saved. This is largely thanks to a multidisciplinary approach to each lung cancer case, says Federico Albrecht, MD, a medical oncologist at the Miami Cancer Institute.

“We believe that a patient with lung cancer should be approached from a global perspective, involving different specialties, including medical oncology, thoracic surgery, radiotherapy, neuro-oncology and many others”, explains Dr Albrecht.

In celebration of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, host Jonathan Fialkow, MD, Assistant Medical Director and Chief Cardiologist at the Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, assembled a panel of experts for a Baptist HealthTalk podcast on the latest data on symptoms, treatments and screenings. Lung cancer (small and non-small cell) is the second most common cancer in men and women, besides skin cancer.

Brenda Gonzalez, MD, pulmonologist and vice president of medical staff at Doctors Hospital, and Lori Adelson, workplace lawyer and board member of the American Lung Association, joined Dr. Albrecht.

“Unfortunately, in the early stages of lung cancer, patients are often asymptomatic,” Dr. Gonzalez said. “The symptoms become more frequent as the cancer becomes more advanced. Sixty to 70 percent of lung cancer patients go undiagnosed until the cancer is advanced.

For Dr Gonzalez and Ms Adelson, the subject of lung cancer is also a personal one. Dr Gonzalez said his uncle died of lung cancer at the age of 40. Ms Adelson’s mother, a non-smoker, was diagnosed at age 70.

Here are some excerpts from the podcast, which can be listened to in full here:

Can you tell us more about the multidisciplinary approach to treating patients with lung cancer?

Dr Albrecht:

“The team approach… is the best way to treat a patient and provide individualized treatment. At the beginning, we analyze the extent of the tumor. And then you define the staging, and then you wonder if the tumor can have minimally invasive surgery, or if it can be surgically resected. Here we have a team of robotic surgery experts who actually improved the recovery of these lung cancer patients. It is therefore an important method and approach.

“If the tumor cannot be surgically removed, then we are discussing different options such as adding radiation therapy. Here at the Miami Cancer Institute, we have a full spectrum of radiation therapy techniques available. “

What is the typical presentation of lung cancer cases that you see?

Dr Gonzalez:

“The symptoms become more frequent as the cancer becomes more advanced. This was the case with my uncle who died at the age of 40 from lung cancer. He was diagnosed at a very advanced stage. About 60 to 70 percent of lung cancer patients are not diagnosed until late in the day. The most common symptoms that patients may experience are coughing, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

“So any patient with risk factors, especially former smokers or smokers who have a cough and other symptoms, should be assessed for lung cancer. And, obviously, as lung cancer progresses and spreads to other parts of the body, a patient may experience other symptoms, especially if it has spread to their brain, liver, etc. his bones… ”

Tell us about lung cancer awareness and the importance of screening?

Ms. Adelson:

“At the time, my mother was diagnosed with stage two lung cancer. She had been diagnosed by a mammogram. His OB-GYN had passed his routine exam and saw a stain on his lungs. So, despite the fact that it was not a real lung scan, she was saved by the scan. And, luckily, she caught it at an earlier stage. Unfortunately for us, she still only had a prognosis of five to seven years.

“So most importantly, I raise awareness by sharing my story. So, I think no one who is dealing with lung cancer should go through it alone. And I really hope that this conversation will motivate people to listen to their bodies, advocate for themselves and their loved ones, and talk to their doctors about lung cancer screening.

Tags: CT Lung Cancer Screening, Lung Cancer Symptoms, Miami Cancer Institute

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