When a stomach ailment sent Anita Yund to the doctor, she didn't expect to learn that there might be a problem with her lungs. But an abdominal CT scan showed otherwise.
"I read the radiologist's report, and it was kind of frightening," she said. The report indicated that she had a nodule on her right lung.
Lung nodules are small spots on the lung that can be seen on an X-ray or CT scan. They are often discovered when a patient is being evaluated for an unrelated issue. Most are benign, but all deserve careful attention in order to rule out more serious conditions such as lung cancer.
The Lung Program at the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute® - Abbott Northwestern Hospital has developed a Lung Nodule Clinic to care for patients like Yund. It includes a team of experts - lung specialists, lung surgeons and cancer specialists - who use evidence-based guidelines to evaluate and monitor patients.
The clinic's team approach also helps streamline care. Instead of making separate appointments with each doctor, the patient is evaluated by the team and works with a nurse to coordinate any ongoing care.
Key considerations in evaluating patients with lung nodules include the size of the nodule, the patients' medical history and their exposure to lung cancer risks such as cigarette smoke, asbestos and radon.
Yund considers herself to be in excellent health and has never smoked. "But I did some waitressing in the past and was exposed to lots of secondhand smoke," she said.
Her appointment at the Lung Nodule Clinic was reassuring. The team who evaluated her determined that the nodule was benign and suggested she return in nine months for another scan to ensure that there was no change.
"It was so nice to meet with this team who knew exactly what they were looking at," said Yund. "It gave me the peace of mind I needed."
Healthy Communities Magazine, summer 2011
Lung Nodule Clinic experts