Archive for the ‘Lung Cancer’ Category

“I never smoked, how could I have lung cancer?”

Posted on November 21st, 2014 in Lung Cancer, Medical Education | No Comments »

A patient’s perspective on lung cancer in never smokers

By Elizabeth A David, MD FACS

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, however, disappointingly few Americans are aware of many important truths about lung cancer.  Lung cancer is the #1 cause of cancer related deaths in the US, and it is estimated that 160,000 people will die of lung cancer in 2014.  Most of us are aware of the relationship between lung cancer and tobacco use.  However, new cases of lung cancer in people who have never smoked are on the rise. In 2007, approximately 10% of lung cancers were diagnosed in people who never smoked. That number has tripled to 30% of cases in 2014; roughly 66,000 Americans who have never smoked will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year.  “Never smokers” who are diagnosed with lung cancer tend to be younger and their disease is more serious when they are diagnosed.

John’s perspective

For Lung Cancer Awareness Month, our patient Mr. John Leung was willing to share his experience as a never smoker who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and treated by our lung surgery team at UC Davis, in the hopes of, as John puts it, “breaking the mindset that lung cancer only happens in people who smoke.” 

John, only in his 50’s, experienced a cough for four years.  The cough would get better and worse and at times improved after he took medicine for post-nasal drip.  He had a chest x-ray when the cough began, and he had another this summer when the cough worsened.   John remembers feeling “apprehensive and worried” when his doctor told him that there was a mass on his chest x-ray.  “It wasn’t until my CT scan was abnormal, that I knew something had to be dealt with and I felt that it was highly likely to be cancer.” John said.  He felt like it was probably cancer because he knew it had not been present on his original x-ray four years earlier. John was diagnosed and treated with a minimally invasive (VATS) lobectomy for stage-1 non-small cell lung cancer in September.

How did he handle the diagnosis?

When John was told that his lung mass might be cancer, he immediately started “looking for a reason for why this would happen to me and looking for someone to blame.  I even tried to blame LA because I lived there in the smog.” John said.  “I wondered if it happened because of something I had done.”  He and his wife embarked on the journey of finding doctors and information that would help them. “I needed to have a doctor who could explain a process that I could understand and buy into.” He wanted to have something done quickly, but he needed to feel comfortable with the plan. So he sought several opinions.

Fear of the unknown has been a part of John’s lung cancer experience.  Initially, he was worried about how bad the cancer was, whether it was local or if it had spread to other organs.  Then he worried about surviving surgery. Now, he worries about whether it will recur soon, but he is learning to accept his fears just as he has accepted his diagnosis, knowing that he did nothing to cause it.

His family and friends have played an immense supporting role during the time of diagnosis, surgery and recovery.  His wife encouraged him to write questions down the night before his doctor visits, so they knew what they wanted to know before the visit was over. Everyone in his family is supportive, including his mom and siblings.

How does he feel about having Lung Cancer?

Some patients with lung cancer feel ashamed or embarrassed to be diagnosed with lung cancer, but not John. If anyone asks him he is honest with them and tells them about his diagnosis.  He sent his work colleagues an email every two weeks informing them of what was happening and how he was feeling.  He is a member of a Rotary club and he stood up and told his story at a meeting. He hopes that by telling his story it will help people understand that anyone can develop lung cancer, not just people who have smoked.  

In essence John has become an “ePatient”: educated, empowered and empathic.  “I have noticed that there is a lack of lung cancer awareness.” John points out.  “There seems to be pockets of people who are willing to drive the agenda because of personal experience, but there does not seem to be a general awareness of lung cancer like there is for other cancers.  People think that lung cancer is a penalty for the vice of smoking, but there doesn’t seem to be awareness that lung cancer occurs in people who never smoked.  The first question anyone asks me when I tell them I have lung cancer is – were you a smoker? And then they want to know why I have lung cancer.”

During the course of his diagnosis and treatment, John has learned that medicine and science have moved much further than he realized when it comes to lung cancer. He’s been “amazed at the progress.” He hopes that in the future, people won’t have preconceived notions about lung cancer and its treatment options. There are treatment options and hope for patients with lung cancer. “I didn’t think I would have it so easy if I had lung cancer.”  Of course, nothing is easy.  But it doesn’t have to be impossible either.

John has been very brave to share his experience to raise awareness about lung cancer in people who have never smoked. It is important to remember that chest pain, shortness of breath and cough are symptoms that should not be ignored. Unfortunately, most patients with lung cancer do not have symptoms until they have advanced disease. For patients with a long history of smoking, screening with a low-dose CT chest is currently recommended, please click here for more information. There are no screening recommendations for people who have never smoked at this time. Please remember that lung cancer can happen in anyone and treatment options are available.

For more information, please see these references:

  1. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-041775.pdf
  2. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-041776.pdf
  3. Subramanian JGovindan R. Lung cancer in never smokers: a review. J Clin Oncol. 2007 Feb 10;25(5):561-70.
  4. Hasegawa YAndo MKubo AIsa SYamamoto STsujino KKurata TOu SHTakada MKawaguchi T. Human papilloma virus in non-small cell lung cancer in never smokers: a systematic review of the literature. Lung Cancer. 2014 Jan;83(1):8-13. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2013.10.002. Epub 2013 Oct 31.

 

2014 Update on UC Davis Thoracic Surgery Outcomes

Posted on July 19th, 2014 in Benign Esophagus, Benign Lung, Esophageal Cancer, Lung Cancer | No Comments »

UC Davis thoracic surgery providers are helping to evolve healthcare to emphasize patient value.  Patient value not only includes traditional outcomes such as  cure of cancer and amelioration of pain, but also by the effects on quality of life, function after surgery, and most importantly, what immediate outcomes are important to patients and their families.

Transparency in outcomes is important for patients and their families, referring physicians and other stakeholders to make informed decisions on which health systems provide optimal care.  The clinical outcomes of the UC Davis Section of General Thoracic Surgery are tracked by several validated national quality databases and evaluation organizations including the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®), The ACS Committee on Cancer Quality Improvement Program (CQIP®), the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) General Thoracic Surgery Database and the LeapFrog Group.  These bodies compare medical institutions outcomes to national benchmarks and determine how individual institutions rank.

  • The ACS NSQIP® comparisons determine if an institution’s results are in line with its national peers (As Expected), underperform its peers (Needs Improvement) or out perform its peers (Exemplary).
  • The CQIP® compares cancer specific results between the Commission on Cancer accredited medical centers.  Medical centers listed in the comparisons are only national health systems with established quality cancer care infrastructure.
  • The STS Database measures the outcomes of American Board of Thoracic Surgery eligible or certified physicians, and therefore measures the thoracic surgery outcomes of the “best of the best” surgeons in the nation.
  • The LeapFrog Group determines the Highest Quality of Care Rating by surveying participating hospitals and measuring their outcomes.  A hospital can achieve a Highest Quality of Care Rating by:

-         Participating in the Leapfrog Survey

-         Performing ≥ 13 esophagectomies during the survey year

-         All of the esophagectomies performed by high-volume surgeon (≥ 2 esophagectomies/year)

Below are our UC Davis Section of General Thoracic Surgery Outcomes as measured by the most recent national quality assurance measures:

2013 ACS NSQIP® All Procedures

Mortality As Expected
Pneumonia Exemplary
Ventilator > 48 hours Exemplary
Morbidity As Expected
Unplanned Intubation Exemplary
Deep Venous Thrombosis As Expected
Urinary Tract Infection As Expected
Return to the Operating Room As Expected

 

Where Mortality is the rate of surviving the hospital experience after an operation; pneumonia is a lung infection acquired during the hospitalization; ventilator > 48hrs refers to the time on a breathing machine after an operation; morbidity is the accumulative complications after an operation; unplanned intubation is the need for a breathing tube to be put back in after an operation; deep venous thrombosis is a blood clot in the arms or legs that may develop after an operation; urinary tract infection is an infection often from a bladder catheter that is placed for an operation; return to the operating room is an unplanned re-operation after the intended or index operation.

2009-2011 CQIP® Lung Cancer Resection

Years 2009-2011

UC Davis

National Average

Lung Resection 30-Day Mortality

0.8%

2.7%

30-Day Mortality is the rate of not surviving 30 days after an operation, even after having gone homeLung Resection is the surgical removal of part of the lung such as a lobectomy or the entire lung on one side such as a pneumonectomy.  The most recent available data for CQIP® is for the years 2009-2011.

STS General Thoracic Surgery Database (2011-2013)

Years 2011-2013

UC Davis

National Average

All Procedures Discharge Mortality

1.0%

1.9%

All Procedures 30-Day Mortality

1.6%

2.7%

Where Discharge Mortality is the rate of not leaving the hospital alive after the operation, and 30-Day Mortality is the rate of not surviving 30 days after an operation, even after having gone home.

LeapFrog Group Ratings for Esophageal Resection (2013)

 4-Bar, Best Odds for Survival Ranking or Highest Quality of Care Rating: Top in the Sacramento region.

Where 4-Bars (Highest Quality of Care Rating) means the patient has the best chances of surviving an esophageal resection.  An esophageal resection or Esophagectomy is a surgery to remove the esophagus and replace it with the stomach or colon and is most commonly performed for cancer, though sometimes it needs to be performed for very extreme non-cancer disease.

The LeapFrog Highest Quality of Care Rating determines quality or value based on the volume, or the number of procedures performed.  The thinking is that having experience with a procedure refines quality outcomes and promotes value.  This volume-outcome relationship has been demonstrated in the scientific literature (Birkmeyer et al, New Engl J of Med, 2002) for both esophageal cancer surgery (Esophagectomy) as well as lung cancer surgery otherwise called lung  resection, such as lobectomy and pneumonectomy.

Since 2008 our UC Davis Section of General Thoracic Surgery has performed over 100 esophagectomies and over 250 lobectomy and pneumonectomies.  Seventy percent of our lung resections are performed minimally invasively either by Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS) or by Robot.

Patient-centered value outcomes, as mentioned above, have a lot to do with the skill of the surgeon and the surgeon’s volume based experience.  However the central driver of quality outcomes is careful planning, attention to detail, and scientific evidence based best-practice treatment algorithms that are followed in consensus by the entire care team.  Care processes or pathways that are patient/family-focused, foster coordination and communication amongst all providers can promote efficiency and improve results that are important to patients (Vanhaecht et al, Health Serv Mange Res, 2007).

At UC Davis, we have developed novel evidence based post-operative care pathways for esophagectomy (Cooke et al, Society of Thoracic Surgeons 49th Annual Meeting, 2013) and lung resection as well as Respiratory Therapy pathways that are designed to prevent pneumonia, need for replacement of a breathing tube and pronged need for a breathing tube (Tanner-Corbett…Cooke et al, 14th World Conference on Lung Cancer, 2011), and in effect, “stack the deck” in the patients favor to achieve important top clinical outcomes.

We are now creating patient-centered pathways to foster patient engagement and activation, so that patients and their families are more participatory in their care, and help make the outcomes that are most important to them a reality.  These research endeavors are supported by a grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.  To learn more click here.

With our evolving health care system, the definition of quality has matured from not only advanced technology that is available, but also the value in outcomes that the patient experiences, and maximization of the outcomes that are most important to patients and their families.  At UC Davis we are proud to be innovators and leaders in quality healthcare.

UC Davis Section of General Thoracic Surgery Partners with #LCSM to host the Lung Cancer Tweet Chat on 6/19

Posted on June 8th, 2014 in Lung Cancer | No Comments »

On Thursday, June 19th at 5 PM Pacific/ 8 PM Eastern, Dr. David Tom Cooke (Twitter@UCD_ChestHealth) will moderate the #LCSM Tweet Chat. The topic: “What are clinical and functional outcomes after lung cancer surgery that are most important to patients & their families?” 

We will partner with #LCSM (#Lung Cancer Social Media; Twitter@LCSMchat), a TweetChat patient education platform, to engage the lung cancer community.  On Twitter, stakeholders tweet using the hashtag #LCSM to flag microblogging discussions of lung cancer treatment, research, and numerous other lung cancer patient focused issues.  The #LCSM TweetChat is a set time when people interested in lung cancer gather virtually via Twitter, and with guidance from a moderator, chat about specific patient-centered topics in lung cancer.  The bimonthly #LCSM TweetChats are an hour long. Hundreds of #LCSM tweets are sent during the chat. Participants in the TweetChat are international, and include patients, family members, researchers, multidisciplinary medical professionals and advocates.  All tweets that include the #LCSM hashtag during the specified hour are recorded in a TweetChat transcript and made available online.

The June 19th #LCSM Tweet Chat moderated by Dr. Cooke is part of his Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute funded project entitled “Empowering Patients and Their Families to Improve Outcomes That Are Most Important to Them after Lung Cancer Surgery”.

Patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) seeks to assist stakeholders (patients, their family members , friends and care providers) communicate and make informed healthcare decisions, allowing multiple voices to be heard in assessing the value and efficacy of healthcare options.  PCOR answers patient-centered questions such as: “What can I do to improve the outcomes that are most important to me?” and “How can clinicians and the care delivery systems they work in help me make the best decisions about my health?” (http://www.pcori.org/). Dr. Cooke is seeking to bring the concept of PCOR to thoracic surgery research and improve outcomes for patients undergoing lung cancer surgery.

Lung cancer surgery, specifically lobectomy (removing 1/5 of the lung) and pneumonectomy (removing the entire lung on one side), are the gold-standard therapies for early and locally advanced lung cancer.  However, lung cancer surgery is high-risk and associated and can be associated with an elevated risk of death (mortality), complications, and prolonged hospital length-of-stay and hospital readmissions.  In U.S. hospitals, national 30-day mortality after lobectomy ranges between 4-6% and 11-17% after pneumonectomy (Birkmeyer et al, N Engl J Med. 2002).  Dr. Cooke is investigating if patient and family participation can drive improvements in lung cancer surgery outcomes, leading to the creation of successful after-surgery patient care protocols that will translate the good results of high performing medical centers to all types of institutions performing lung cancer surgery.  Active engagement of patients and their families in the after-surgery clinical care process may improve the quality of life and overall survival of patients surgically treated for lung cancer.

By having a conversation with the #LCSM community, #LCSM will put to light what after-surgery clinical and functional outcomes are most important to patients and family and friends after surgery for lung cancer.  Talk about the communication between the patient, family/friends & healthcare providers after their operation and during their hospital stay. Were there any problems and if so how can surgeons, patients and all stakeholders improve the communication?  And finally, what changes in the lung cancer surgery care process are needed to achieve the clinical and functional goals that are important to patients and their family/friends?

With the above goals, here are the 3 questions that will be discussed during the June 19th Tweet Chat:

What are clinical and functional outcomes after #lungcancer surgery that are most important to patients & families? #LCSM

T1 What post-op clinical and functional outcomes are most important to you (patients & family) after #surgery for #lungcancer. #lcsm

T2 Talk about communication between the patient, family & HCPs after operation and during hospital stay. Problems/how to improve? #lcsm

T3 ? changes in #lungcancer surgery care process are needed to achieve clinical/functional goals important to patients & family. #lcsm

Here is more info on how to participate in the #LCSM Chat.  To learn more about how to support the Section of General Thoracic Surgery’s innovative research, click here.

Ending Lung Cancer in Women – Turning the Country Turquoise

Posted on May 13th, 2014 in Lung Cancer | No Comments »

Ending Lung Cancer in Women – Turning the Country Turquoise

What We Should Know During National Women’s Health Week

By Elizabeth A David, MD

General Thoracic Surgeon

UC Davis Section of General Thoracic Surgery

Each October, the US turns pink to raise awareness for breast cancer.  Football fields are painted pink, women are reminded to do breast self-exams, and have their annual screening mammograms.   Approximately, 40,000 women will die of breast cancer in 2014 and 232,670 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed (1,2).    Breast cancer advocates are to be congratulated on their successes with raising awareness and lung cancer advocates, physicians, and patients should take note of their strategies.

Lung cancer remains the number one cause of cancer-related deaths in the US.  It is estimated in 2014, that 72,330 women will die of lung cancer and 108,210 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer (1,2).  As many of us know, a large number of lung cancer cases are related to tobacco use and for this reason carries a stigma in society which can interfere with patients seeking treatment.  What many people don’t know is that lung cancer in women who have never smoked is on the rise.  Dana Reeve, widow of Christopher Reeve, was one example.  Mrs. Reeve was diagnosed at age 44 and died within a year of her diagnosis; she had never smoked.  Although the stigma of lung cancer discouraged her, Mrs. Reeve became an advocate for other lung cancer patients and a strong supporter of the American Cancer Society. 

Unfortunately for all patients with lung cancer, symptoms are rare for early-stage disease when a cure is possible.  Generally by the time patients have symptoms, their disease is advanced and more difficult to treat and or cure.   Lung cancer screening has been shown to provide a 20% reduction in lung cancer specific death rates when high-risk patients were screened with annual low-dose CT scans of the chest (3).    High-risk individuals have been defined as those 55-74 years old, with a smoking history of 30 years or more and former smokers who had quit within the last 15 years.   These statistics do not help our female patients who have never smoked though.   Research is continuing to look at blood tests and other tests that can be used as screening exams for asymptomatic patients. 

What can you do to help yourself or someone you love?  If you are an individual who is high-risk for lung cancer (i.e. you are currently smoking and have a 30 pack-year history or you quit within the last 15 years), ask your doctor about lung cancer screening with a low dose CT scan.  For information on our UC Davis Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program please call 916 734-0655 to schedule a low dose CT for lung cancer screening.  Our lung cancer screening program is a Lung Cancer Alliance Screening Center of Excellence.  If you have a first degree-relative with lung cancer, talk to your doctor about your risk and whether or not screening is appropriate.  Please do not ignore symptoms of cough, chest pain or unexplained weight loss – talk to your doctor. 

If you would like more information about women’s lung health, go to www.lungforce.org.  We are proud to partner witht the American Lung Association in California, especially during this National Women’s Health Week.  The American Lung Association is launching a national campaign to raise awareness for women’s lung health, decrease the stigma of lung cancer and COPD and to promote research.  Join the effort by wearing Turquoise, the signature color for the Lung Force lung cancer and COPD campaign, and telling people why you are doing so.  Remember, when your doctor mentions your annual mammogram to ask about your risk of lung cancer and whether or not screening is appropriate. 

References:

  1. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-041775.pdf
  2. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-041776.pdf
  3. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1102873

 

Making Sense of the USPSTF Recommendations on Lung Cancer Screening

Posted on January 1st, 2014 in Lung Cancer | No Comments »

On December 30th , via a publication in the Annals of Internal Medicine found here, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) announced they recommend annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 55-80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history (the number of years smoking x number of packs per day, for example 2 pack/day smoking habit for 15 years equals 30 pack-years, or 1 pack/day smoking habit for 30 years also equals 30 pack-years) and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.  The USPSTF also recommended that screening should discontinue once a person has stopped smoking for 15 or more years, or has developed a medical condition that would preclude curative surgery if a lung cancer was to be found.

These ground breaking recommendations are a follow-up to the USPSTF recommendations released July 29th, 2013.  Since their July 29th announcement, the USPSTF reviewed multiple data including US and European randomized clinical trials, and employed population modeling studies commissioned from the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET).  The USPSTF’s support of lung cancer screening by LDCT is a departure from their last report in 2004, where they found no evidence in support of lung cancer screening by LDCT or chest x-ray or sputum analysis.

So what is the USPSTF?  The USPSTF is an “independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention that systematically reviews the evidence of effectiveness and develops recommendations for clinical preventive services.” (http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstfix.htm Agency for Healthcare Research Quality).  The USPSTF offers graded recommendations from A (high certainty that the net benefit [of an intervention] is beneficial) to D (recommendation against [the intervention]).  There is an alternative grade called “I” or insufficient evidence.  The USPSTF provides a grade “B” recommendation for lung cancer screening with LDCT; randomized clinical trials looking at LDCT for lung cancer screening provides “moderate certainty” of the benefit to a high-risk population.

So why are the USPSTF recommendations on lung cancer screening important?  Currently very few insurance plans, including Medicare or Medicaid, cover the costs of lung cancer screening.  Most asymptomatic patients who fit the high risk group defined above must pay out of pocket expenses if they want a LDCT specifically for the purposes of lung cancer screening.  Lesser et al demonstrated (Lesser et al, Ann Fam Med. 2011) that from 2007 to 2009 the USPSTF recommended 15 preventative interventions for adults aged 65 years and older.  Medicare partially covered 93% of the recommended services.  In the same time frame, USPSTF recommended against 16 preventive services, and Medicare partially covered only 44% of those services.  So although the USPSTF recommendations, per their own disclaimer, “are independent of the US Government”, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) take their recommendations seriously when determining clinical services coverage.

What information is the USPSTF using for their recommendations?  Although the USPSTF reviewed multiple studies and randomized clinical trials, the largest study they looked at is the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST).  The NLST was a US, academic, multi-hospital randomized clinical trial comparing chest X-ray to LDCT for screening in patients considered high risk (aged 55-74, 30 pack-year smoking history, current smoker or quit within 15 years at point of eligibility).  Patients underwent three annual screening exams.  The results demonstrated that LDCT reduced death from lung cancer by 20% compared to chest X-ray, and overall death from all causes by 6.7% compared to chest X-ray.  70% of the lungs cancers found by LDCT were stage I or II, or the earliest most curable stage.

Why is lung cancer screening important?  Currently 75% of patients who are diagnosed with lung cancer are diagnosed at stage III or IV, or locally advanced or metastatic stages.  Although there have been improvements in targeted molecular therapy as illustrated here, long term survival for patients with advanced stage lung cancer is difficult.  As mentioned above, 70% of the lung cancers found by screening LDCT were early stage tumors, where 5 year survival is 75-80%.  This is an incredible “stage-shift” which will have marked benefits on society.

What else did the USPSTF say?  The USPSTF highly recommended that smoking cessation be incorporated into any screening program.  This brings up the important point; any lung cancer screening program should be a comprehensive screening program.  What does that mean?  It means that a patient should enter the appointment with a referral from a primary-care provider.  This allows for communication of results, and continuity of care.  All active smokers should undergo smoking cessation counseling.  Patients with abnormal lung findings should have the opportunity to receive counseling and guidance form a lung cancer screening program clinician.  In addition the screening program should be multidisciplinary, and have frequent continuous quality improvement meetings to oversee the efficacy and results of the program.  Our UC Davis Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program fits theses criteria, and is comprehensive in its design and implementation.

Is there any controversy to the USPSTF recommendations?  Not controversy, but the USPSTF recommendations focus on a group that is defined as high risk (aged 55-80, 30 pack-year smoking history, current smoker or quit within 15 years), but what about patients that do not fit the smoking criteria but are also at risk for lung cancer?  Those patients include, but not limited to those individuals who have been exposed to asbestos, have COPD, high levels of radon exposure, history of interstitial lung disease and a family history of lung cancer.  The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends LDCT screening in patients who are aged 50-74, 20 pack-year smoking history and have one additional risk factor.  Risk factors include the following:  personal lung cancer history (>5 years), family history of lung cancer (first degree relative), chronic lung disease, and carcinogen exposure (excluding second hand smoke exposure).  We have also incorporated the NCCN guidelines into our UC Davis Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program.

How can I learn more about lung cancer screening LDCT?  There are a number of patient-centered resources.  The National Cancer Institute has a NLST Patient and Physician Guide.  The American Lung Association offers an online patient-centered tool found here, that helps patients determine if they are candidates for LDCT lung cancer screening.  A great social media community is #LCSM, which regularly has Twitter chats that discuss lung cancer issues, and has an associated blog.  Finally our representatives from our UC Davis Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program are available to answer questions at 916-734-0655.

 

 

 

Transparency of Value in the Care of Patients Undergoing Lung Cancer and Esophageal Cancer Surgery

Posted on October 6th, 2013 in Esophageal Cancer, General, Lung Cancer | No Comments »

Medicine is evolving where the focus expands to not just state of the art technology and procedures to care for our patients, but also what value can medicine provide to patients.  That value is defined by not just the overarching goals of therapy, i.e. cure of cancer, resolution of infection, amelioration of pain, but also by the effects on quality of life, function after surgery, and most importantly, what immediate outcomes are important to patients and their families.

For a potential patient and their family, transparency in provider outcomes is key.  The patient-centered outcomes of the UC Davis General Thoracic Surgery Program are tracked by several quality databases and evaluation organizations including the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®), the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) General Thoracic Surgery Database and the LeapFrog Group.  These bodies compare medical institutions outcomes to national benchmarks and determine how individual institutions rank.  For example, in the case of ACS NSQIP, comparisons determine if an institution’s results in eight measured outcomes are in line with its national peers (As Expected), underperform its peers (Needs Improvement) or out perform its peers (Exemplary).

Below are our UC Davis Thoracic Surgery Program Outcomes as measured by the most recent national quality assurance measures:

2012 ACS NSQIP®

Mortality Exemplary
Pneumonia Exemplary
Ventilator > 48 hours Exemplary
Morbidity As Expected
Unplanned Intubation As Expected
Deep Venous Thrombosis As Expected
Urinary Tract Infection As Expected
Return to the Operating Room As Expected

 

Where Mortality is the rate of surviving the hospital experience after an operation; pneumonia is a lung infection acquired during the hospitalization; ventilator > 48hrs refers to the time on a breathing machine after an operation; morbidity is the accumulative complications after an operation; unplanned intubation is the need for a breathing tube to be put back in after an operation; deep venous thrombosis is a blood clot in the arms or legs that may develop after an operation; urinary tract infection is an infection often from a bladder catheter that is placed for an operation; return to the operating room is an unplanned re-operation after the intended or index operation.

STS General Thoracic Surgery Database (2010-2012)

 

UC Davis

National Average

All Procedures Discharge Survival

98.7%

97.8%

All Procedures 30-Day Survival

98.7%

96.6%

Where Discharge Survival is the rate of leaving the hospital alive after the operation, and 30-Day Survival is the rate of surviving 30 days after an operation, even after having gone home.

LeapFrog Group Ratings for Esophageal Resection (2013)

 4-Bar, Best Odds for Survival Ranking or Highest Quality of Care Rating: Top in the Sacramento region.

Where 4-Bars (Highest Quality of Care Rating) means the patient has the best chances of surviving an esophageal resection.  An esophageal resection or Esophagectomy is a surgery to remove the esophagus and replace it with the stomach or colon and is most commonly performed for cancer, though sometimes it needs to be performed for very extreme non-cancer disease.

The LeapFrog Group determines the Highest Quality of Care Rating by surveying participating hospitals and measuring their outcomes.  A hospital can achieve a Highest Quality of Care Rating by:

-       Participating in the Leapfrog Survey

-       Performing ≥ 13 esophagectomies during the survey year

-       All of the esophagectomies performed by high-volume surgeon (≥ 2 esophagectomies/year)

The LeapFrog Highest Quality of Care Rating determines quality or value based on the volume, or the number of procedures performed.  The thinking is that having experience with a procedure refines quality outcomes and promotes value.  This volume-outcome relationship has been demonstrated in the scientific literature (Birkmeyer et al, New Engl J of Med, 2002) for both esophageal cancer surgery (Esophagectomy) as well as lung cancer surgery otherwise called pulmonary resection, such as lobectomy and pneumonectomy.

Since 2008 our UC Davis General Thoracic Surgery Program has performed 100 esophagectomies and over 200 lobectomy and pneumonectomies.

Patient-centered value outcomes, as mentioned above, have a lot to do with the skill of the surgeon and the surgeon’s volume based experience.  However the central driver of quality outcomes is careful planning, attention to detail, and scientific evidence based best-practice treatment algorithms that are followed in consensus by the entire care team.  Care processes or pathways that are patient/family-focused, foster coordination and communication amongst all providers can promote efficiency and improve results that are important to patients (Vanhaecht et al, Health Serv Mange Res, 2007).

At UC Davis, we have developed novel evidence based post-operative care pathways for esophagectomy (Cooke et al, Society of Thoracic Surgeons 49th Annual Meeting, 2013) and lung resection as well as Respiratory Therapy pathways that are designed to prevent pneumonia, need for replacement of a breathing tube and pronged need for a breathing tube (Tanner-Corbett…Cooke et al, 14th World Conference on Lung Cancer, 2011), and in effect, “stack the deck” in the patients favor to achieve important top clinical outcomes.

With our evolving health care system, the definition of quality has matured from not only advanced technology that is available, but also the value in outcomes that the patient experiences, and maximization of the outcomes that are most important to patients and their families.  Transparency in provider outcomes helps patients make informed decisions on how their care should be directed.

Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening at UC Davis

Posted on August 27th, 2013 in Lung Cancer | No Comments »

UC Davis Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program

(CLSP)

UC Davis CLSP is a multidisciplinary program for comprehensive lung cancer screening.  The innovative program provides low-dose chest computed tomography (LDCT) technology to detect lung cancer early in its most treatable form in those individuals at the highest risk for lung cancer.   The groundbreaking National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) clearly shows that screening with LDCT scans reduces the risk of dying from lung cancer in heavy smokers by 20% compared to screening with simple chest X-rays.  (N Engl J Med. 2011).

The UC Davis Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program addresses the recent recommendations released on July 29, 2013 by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for annual LDCT scans to screen individuals who are at high risk for lung cancer.  To serve our patients in the program, we use a multidisciplinary team of Radiologists, Thoracic Surgeons, Pulmonologists, Pathologists, Medical Oncologists and Radiation Oncologists to develop a best-practice, patient-centered plan.

Who Do We Screen?

      UC Davis CLSP serves a specific high-risk population for lung cancer.  This population is defined by the results of the multi-institution NLST, the USPSTF recommendations and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and includes the following:

a)     High-Risk Patients: Group 1

 i.   Current or former smokers 55-80 years of age;

ii.   Smoked the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes a day for at least 30 years;

iii.   If a former smoker, he/she should have quit within the previous 15 years.

b)     High-Risk Patients:  Group 2

i.     Current or former smokers 50-80 years of age;

ii.    Smoked the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes a day for at least 20 years;

iii.   Have one additional lung cancer risk factor.  Risk factors include the following:   personal lung cancer history (>5 years), family history of lung cancer (first degree relative), chronic lung disease, and carcinogen exposure (excluding second hand smoke exposure).

 

How do I Schedule an Exam?

 

We would be happy to assist you with lung cancer screening or answer additional questions through our Radiology Department. Their phone number for scheduling is 916-734-0655. We will need a referral from your Primary Care Provider or PCP. The referral can be faxed to 916-703-2254.

 

Insurance does not currently pay for lung cancer screening, and an out-of-pocket price for the exam is $375.

 

The results will be reported back to your PCP. Should an abnormality be found which requires further evaluation; our UC Davis CLSP Practitioners, including Pulmonologists and/or Thoracic Surgeons, will assist you, if your PCP wishes to consult them.

 

In addition if interested, we can offer you advice and help on strategies to stop smoking.

 

Thank you again for choosing UC Davis CLSP!

New Point-of-Care App, PulmaCalc PPO, Predicted Post-operative Pulmonary Function Calculator

Posted on July 16th, 2013 in Blow Your Mind Technology, Cool Research, Lung Cancer | No Comments »

Brought to you by the UC Davis Section of General Thoracic Surgery: PulmaCalc PPO is a predicted post-operative pulmonary function calculator.  This unique point of care app, is ideal for health care providers, trainees and patients interested in patient centered medicine to easily calculate predicted post-operative (PPO) pulmonary function based on known pulmonary function test (PFT) values and knowledge of the extent of anatomic lung tissue removed.

The easy to use, intuitive interface allows the user to determine the PPO pulmonary function after segmentectomy, lobectomy or pneumonectomy, using known values for Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second (FEV1) and Diffusing Capacity of the Lung for Carbon Monoxide (DLCO).

For segmentectomy and lobectomy, the user may utilize the anatomic graphic feature or the slide bar to input the number of anatomic segments removed for calculation.

For pneumonectomy a slide bar for the fraction of lung perfusion measured by quantitative radionuclide ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) scan can be used to determine PPO FEV1and DLCO.

Additional tabs describe the role for calculating PPO pulmonary function and the evidence-based medicine behind it.

This application is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical care, advice or professional services.

Available for the iPhone and iPad

To download PulmaCalc PPO click here:

https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=670782795&mt=8

To trouble shoot or additional questions contact:

scott@fouraxisapps.com

 

PulmaCalc in iTunes

What is the New Lung Cancer Staging System?

Posted on January 12th, 2013 in Lung Cancer | No Comments »

In July 2009 a new lung cancer staging system was revealed: The 7th edition of the Tumor/LymphNode/Metastasis (TNM) classification. The 7th edition TNM classification is a result of the International Staging Committee (ISC) created by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), resulting in the IASLC Lung Cancer Retrospective Staging Project.1

            The ISC compiled clinical data on over 100,000 patients diagnosed with NSCLC and SCLC between 1990 and 2000, making the patient population examined 20 times the size of the 1997 analysis.  All components of the staging system were considered for upgrading, with the majority of changes occurring in the T and M components.1

            The 6th staging edition divided tumors into two size groups: T1 < 3cm in diameter, and T2 ≥ 3cm in diameter.  However, most thoracic surgeons and medical oncologists can anecdotally attest that the biologic behavior of node negative tumors that are 6-7cm, behave differently then 3cm node negative tumors, despite both being in the same broad T2 grouping.  The ISC confirmed this assumption.  Results suggested that new size groupings should be created of 2, 3, 5 and 7cm.  5 year survival rates for the pathologic groupings with negative nodes and no metastasis were 77% for T1 ≤ 2cm, 71% for T1 > 2cm and ≤ 3cm, 58% for T2 > 3cm and ≤ 5cm, 49% > 5cm and ≤ 7cm and 35% for T2 > 7cm.  Subsequently, the ISC recommended subclassifying T1 into T1a (≤ 2cm) and T1b (>2cm and ≤3cm) and subclassifying T2 into T2a (> 3cm but ≤ 5cm or tumor with any other T2 descriptors, but ≤ 5cm) and T2b (> 5cm but ≤ 7cm), and reclassify T2 tumors > 7cm to T3.2

                        No formal changes were recommended for nodal staging.  Malignant pleural effusion was reclassified to M1a.  The ISC found that extrathoracic metastasis had poorer prognosis than intrathoracic metastasis.  M1 was therefore sub-classified to M1a for additional tumors in the contralateral lung, malignant pleural and pericardial effusions, and nodular pleural dissemination, and M1b for extrathoracic metastasis.3,4

            The new stage groupings are as follows:  T2b tumors ((> 5cm but ≤ 7cm) that are N0M0 are upstaged from IB to IIA; T2a tumors (≤ 5cm) that are N1M0 are down staged from IIB to IIA, and T4 tumors that are N0/1 are down staged to IIIA.  Restaging the patient population in the study based on the proposed 7th TNM edition, found a pathologic 5 year survival rate 73% for IA, 58% for IB, 46% for IIA, 36% for IIB, 24% for IIIA, 9% for IIIB and 13% for IV.5

            The 7th edition TNM staging system for NSCLC is an exciting accomplishment, and will help the clinician to better understand the outcomes of lung cancer and offers an exciting advance to our specialty. 

 

1. Rami-Porta R, Crowley JJ, Goldstraw P.  The revised TNM staging system for lung cancer.  Ann Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2009 Feb;15(1):4-9.

 

2. Rami-Porta R, Ball D, Crowley J, et al.  The IASLC Lung Cancer Staging Project: proposals for the revision of the T descriptors in the forthcoming (seventh) edition of the TNM classification for lung cancer. J Thorac Oncol. 2007 Jul;2(7):593-602.

3. Rusch VW, Crowley J, Giroux DJ, et al.  The IASLC Lung Cancer Staging Project: proposals for the revision of the N descriptors in the forthcoming seventh edition of the TNM classification for lung cancer.  J Thorac Oncol. 2007 Jul;2(7):603-12.

 

3. Postmus PE, Brambilla E, Chansky K, et al.  The IASLC Lung Cancer Staging Project: proposals for revision of the M descriptors in the forthcoming (seventh) edition of the TNM classification of lung cancer.  J Thorac Oncol. 2007 Aug;2(8):686-93.

 

4.  Goldstraw P, Crowley J, Chansky K, et al.  The IASLC Lung Cancer Staging Project: proposals for the revision of the TNM stage groupings in the forthcoming (seventh) edition of the TNM Classification of malignant tumours.  J Thorac Oncol. 2007 Aug;2(8):706-14. Erratum in: J Thorac Oncol. 2007 Oct;2(10):985.

 

5. Rusch VW, Asamura H, Watanabe H, et al.  The IASLC lung cancer staging project: a proposal for a new international lymph node map in the forthcoming seventh edition of the TNM classification for lung cancer.  J Thorac Oncol. 2009 May;4(5):568-77.

 

Introducing the UC Davis Lung Cancer Chat Room

Posted on January 10th, 2013 in Lung Cancer, Medical Education | No Comments »

The UC Davis Lung Cancer Chat Room is an interactive meeting of learning and support for patients, families, friends and caregivers affected by lung cancer.

This support group is proudly sponsored by the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The UC Davis Lung Cancer Chat Room provides a time for education, sharing and an opportunity to connect face-to-face with people who can relate the realities of lung cancer. Special guest speakers are invited to give presentations on topics of interest to patients. Educational and support materials are provided.

3rd Thursday of each month
10:30am-12:00pm
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
4501 X St. Sacramento, CA
Room #1103

For more information about this group, please contact Jena Cooreman, LCSW at 916-734-5198

2013 Calendar of Group Speakers
DateSpeaker/Topic

February 21st

David Copenhaver, MD, MPH
Director of Cancer Pain, Division of Pain Medicine
Pain Management

March 21st

David Tom Cooke, MD, FCCP, FACS
Section Head of General Thoracic Surgery
Lung Cancer Surgery: When is it Necessary?

April 18th

Kathleen Newman, RD, CSO
Senior Clinical Dietician
Nutrition and Cancer Treatment

May 16th

Elizabeth A. David, MD
Minimally Invasive Lung Cancer Surgery: What Are We Doing Now, What’s on the Horizon?

June 20th

Valerie Kuderer, RN
Thoracic Surgery Nurse Coordinator
Recovery After Lung Cancer Surgery

July 18th

Karen Kelly, MD
Associate Director of Clinical Research
We Might Have a Clinical Trial for That

August 15th

Megan Daly, MD
Advances in Radiation Oncology

September 19th

Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, PhD, MPH
WeCARE! Cancer Peer Navigation Program

October 17th

TBD

November 14th

Tina Li, MD
Personalizing Lung Cancer Therapy: How Tumor Molecular Testing Can Help Your Cancer Care