Archives     Advertise     Editorial Calendar     Subscribe     Contact Us    



New Take on an Old Disease


 
John Howington, MD

Saint Thomas Takes Multidisciplinary Approach to Lung Cancer

The Saint Thomas Lung Cancer and Thoracic Center is redefining the treatment of lung cancer. Their multidisciplinary approach brings together specialists from multiple fields to treat each patient's cancer individually, while low-dose CT lung scans can detect problems long before symptoms start.

It's an initiative that thoracic surgical oncologist John Howington, MD, FACS, FCCP, said grew from the desire to revolutionize treatment of lung cancer patients while bringing together the most knowledgeable personnel possible.


Specialized Care

"We wanted to change how these patients receive treatment, and we have thoracic surgeons who have a special focus on lung cancer and who are well trained in minimally invasive surgery and diagnosing nodules," Howington said.

Specialized expertise means 98 percent of procedures done through the center utilize minimally invasive scopes, which results in less pain and shorter hospital stays for the patient. Saint Thomas pulmonologists are experienced in navigational bronchoscopy and endobronchial ultrasound to add to the minimally invasive diagnosis and work up of lung cancer patients.


More Screenings

The need for dedicated care for this growing population resulted from a January 2015 decision in which Medicare agreed to pay for lung cancer screenings. "They listed specific criteria for who's eligible, and there are more patients at high risk being screened than ever before," said Howington, who has seen a 20 percent increase in screenings since last year. "This resulted in a concentrated focus on the disease and an increased need to communicate with primary care providers about lung cancer risks in the senior population so that they can have that discussion with their patients."


An Ongoing Effort

Through the center, Saint Thomas pulmonologists and surgeons also partner with medical oncologists to provide patients with access to clinical trials locally and nationally. Enrollment is currently underway for stage three and advanced stage lung cancers.

To attack lung cancer on the front end, Saint Thomas works with the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society in referring patients for smoking cessation. As immediate past president of the CHEST Foundation, Howington also contributes his efforts to the ALA's peer reviewed patient education materials and staffing hotline and Tobacco Free America.


Changing Minds

Statistics are promising, with less than 20 percent of Americans still considered smokers (although Tennessee's rates are higher than the national average). Still, the aging baby boomer population means cancer is being diagnosed more often in the elderly, with a median patient age of 70.

"While incidence per 100,000 is going down, prevalence is actually going up," said Howington. That sobering fact has driven him to visit classrooms and high schools to discuss tobacco use and smoking cessation. "The concerning thing is that between 2000 and 2010 there was an increase in smoking among teen women, which is related to appetite suppression," he said.

Another hot topic among today's youth is vaping, or e-cigarettes, often considered harmless. Howington said the devices wreak the same havoc on the cardiovascular system as traditional cigarettes and that the hydrocarbons produced in the vaping process are too new to understand their long-term effects. In general, it takes 20 years after the introduction of a carcinogen before cancer starts developing.


Room for Improvement

And while more of the aging population is being screened, Howington said there's room for improvement in screenings among Medicare eligible patients.

"One thing required is shared decision making with their healthcare provider," he said. "We work within the system to make it easier for patients to meet with their doctor and talk about testing. They know someone with expertise is following up on them and helping; it's not just a screening and you're done."

He also encourages providers to talk openly to their patients about their fears and risks. "Patients need to know that not every nodule turns out to be cancer, and that there's hope."



RELATED LINKS:
Saint Thomas Lung Cancer and Thoracic Center

 
Share:

Related Articles:


Recent Articles

Tax Reform & Healthcare

Medicare cuts and repeal of the individual mandate are two areas of tax reform directly impacting healthcare.

Read More

Senate HELP Committee Hearing on Gene Editing Technology

On Nov. 14, the Senate health committee held a hearing on the gene editing method CRISPR to learn more about the technology from expert witnesses, which included Dr. Matthew Porteus, associate professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University; Katrine Bosley, CEO and president of Editas Medicine; and Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Read More

Nashville Health Care Council Hosts Panel Discussion on Pharma/Provider Collaborations in Health Care

On Nov. 13, the Nashville Health Care Council hosted a panel discussion on collaborations between the pharmaceutical and healthcare provider sectors and how those collaborations can drive change in healthcare.

Read More

Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame Class of 2017

Six healthcare luminaries were recently inducted into the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame.

Read More

NMGMA 10 Minute Takeaway

Nashville Medical News recently had the opportunity to chat with new NMGMA president Joy Testa.

Read More

Tennessee Joins Medical Licensing Compact

A new Tennessee law will make it easier for area physicians to practice across state lines beginning in 2019 as part of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.

Read More

A Plan to Address COPD

COPD is the third leading cause of death in America, yet it lags behind many other conditions in terms of research dollars and coordinated federal response ... but that seems to be changing.

Read More

Surgical Innovations

Two new procedures recently made their debut in Middle Tennessee offering new treatment options for coronary bifurcation lesions and lumbar fusion.

Read More

Don't fear the FBAR

If you are a taxpayer with offshore financial accounts, you could be in trouble with the IRS and not even know it.

Read More

HoneyCo Homes: Using Smart Technology to Help Seniors Age in Place

A Nashville startup is using technology to help seniors age in place while providing peace of mind to loved ones and actionable data to caregivers.

Read More

Email Print
 
 

 

 


Tags:
E-Cigarettes, Endobronchial Ultrasound, John Howington, Lung Cancer, Navigational Bronchoscopy, Saint Thomas Lung Cancer and Thoracic Center, Smoking, Tobacco Cessation, Vaping
Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: