If you had to guess which cancer took the most lives in America, what would your guess be?
“Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the United States for both women and men since 1986,” said Daniel Miller, MD. Miller is the Chief of Thoracic Surgery and the Director of the Georgia Cancer Center Lung Cancer Screening Program.
Most lung cancer cases, about 80%, are associated with cigarette smoking, including secondhand smoke. Unfortunately, when symptoms began showing, the cancer has already spread, making treatment very time sensitive. When a patient is diagnosed, their care team is not just one doctor. Typically they have about four doctors on their treatment team, such as a thoracic surgeon, an interventional pulmonologist, a medical oncologist, and a radiation oncologist. There are many benefits to having a large care team but a huge drawback is the wait time between appointments with each doctor.
“When you have cancer, you want to be seen now and be treated now,” said Miller.
The speed of treatment time for patients is what inspired the creation of the Thoracic-Oncology NOW Clinic. The clinic is a multidisciplinary clinic that is staffed by specialized physicians in the treatment of thoracic malignancies. The staff includes Miller and John Kuckleman, MD, as the thoracic surgeons, Rabih Bechara, MD, as the interventional pulmonologist, Girindra Raval, MD, as the medical oncologist, and William Grubb, MD, as the radiation oncologist.
The clinic has seen 50 patients since opening in October of 2022 and treats not just lung cancer but also esophageal cancer, metastatic disease to the lungs, and malignant pleural effusions.
“You’re cutting back on treatment time, waiting time, travel time, and more importantly you have a group of doctors, rather than a doctor, who are talking about your care,” said Raval.
The clinic operates on Wednesdays and acts as a one-stop shop for the patients. This way they can save their time and the time of their loved ones who come with them for treatments. Patients also have access to the GCC’s registered dietitians and social workers, along with a scheduler, financial personnel, and medical assistants, creating one large care team ready to help them on their treatment journey.
“There is a degree of reassurance for the patient that there is a team who are all engrossed in caring for that patient,” said Raval.
If you want to learn more about the Thoracic-Oncology NOW Clinic or make an appointment, visit their website for more information.