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Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center honored for excellence in care and treatment of lung cancer patients

September, 28, 2016 by Beth Anne Atkins

GREENVILLE – The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) recently awarded the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center (LWJCC) the official designation as a Community Hospital Center of Excellence. The LJCC is a joint venture between Vidant Medical Center and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. The ALCF Centers of Excellence Award recognizes hospitals and cancer centers for their individualized care and treatment of lung cancer patients.

“Across the U.S., the majority of lung cancer patients are treated in the community hospital setting,” said Bonnie J. Addario, a Stage IIIB lung cancer survivor and founder of the ALCF. “Our multi-disciplinary, patient-centric Centers of Excellence Program raises the bar on the standard of care for lung cancer patients and ensures patients know which hospitals are using the most up-to-date technology to improve treatment options and quality of life.”

The LWJCC is one of only 13 designated centers across the United States. As a Community Hospital Center of Excellence, the LWJCC is implementing the standard of care required in the ALCF’s Centers of Excellence Program. The program’s hallmark standard ensures all patients receive genomic testing to monitor for specific disease states and to determine potential options for precision medicine and targeted treatment. Additional standards include an individualized approach to care, patient access to new diagnostic tools and therapeutic techniques, and an emphasis on early detection and patient follow-up.

"Lung cancer is a very complex and aggressive cancer. It takes the multi-disciplinary care of a team of lung cancer specialists to deliver the needed complex and aggressive treatment to achieve the best possible outcome for every individual with lung cancer. With the newer targeted therapies and now immune therapy, we are seeing outcomes and survivals that those of us who are lung cancer specialists have never seen before,” said Dr. Paul Walker, chief hematology and oncology, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “Curing stage 4 lung cancer is now a discussion in our multi-disciplinary conference and clinic. However the highest cure rate comes from early detection through low-dose chest CT lung cancer screening.”

Nearly two years after the launch of low-dose CT (LDCT) scanning at Vidant Health hospitals, a procedure designed to detect lung cancer at earlier stages when it’s easiest to cure, providers have performed hundreds of scans. Lung cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in both men and women, and it’s also the leading cause of cancer death in the country.

“More than 80 percent of patients who go untreated for stage one and two lung cancer will be dead in five years; this is why screening saves lives,” said Dr. Mark Bowling, director of interventional pulmonology, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “Our data shows that we are detecting one cancer case at every 26 low dose CT screening scans. The national data is one cancer to 320 scans.”

Early diagnosis and treatment is critical due to the poor prognosis at advanced stages of the disease. The use of LDCT scanning to screen high risk patients for lung cancer has resulted in a number of patients being diagnosed with pulmonary nodules. Although most of these nodules are benign, some can be cancerous.

While the understanding of lung cancer’s diagnosis and treatment has improved, additional work is still needed to advance the treatment options and survival statistics. Approximately 221,200 new lung cancer cases were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2015.

  • Lung cancer takes more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. It accounts for 27 percent of all cancer deaths and is the second leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in every ethnic group. Since 1987, it has killed more women every year than breast cancer.
  • Non-smokers with lung cancer is the number six cause of cancer death in the United States.
  • The five-year lung cancer survival rate has changed little in nearly 40 years – from 12 percent in 1970 to 17 percent today.
This staggering loss of life has gone unnoticed for too long. The ALCF’s overall mission is to change that prognosis through funding clinical research that leads to life-saving discoveries and treatments and provides critical support services and educational programs to empower patients and create hope.

“The ALCF is focused on initiatives that empower patients to take a seat at the table wherever discussions are being made about their care,” added Addario. “We are committed to improving the standard of care and believe genomic testing and targeted therapy is the future of lung cancer treatment and the pathway to increasing the survival rate for all lung cancer patients.

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