Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US, taking more lives each year than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined, and Kentucky has the highest rate of lung cancer in the country. While a growing number of high- risk patients are getting Lung Cancer Screening with low-dose CT scans, most lung cancers are still detected from incidental findings, or accidentally discovered during an evaluation of something else. In fact, most patients with a lung nodule do not have symptoms, including patients with early stage lung cancer.
Our Comprehensive Lung Nodule Clinic – one of the first of its kind in Kentucky – offers fast, convenient, and comprehensive evaluation of lung nodules and is dedicated to identifying lung cancer in its earliest stages when it’s most treatable.
Lung nodules are small masses of tissue or “spots” in the lung that can be malignant (cancerous), although most are actually non-cancerous. Non-cancerous nodules can be from scarring, inflammation or infection. Coal dust and exposure to certain types of fungi commonly found in Kentucky can cause nodules to form as well. Smokers and those exposed to second-hand smoke are at increased risk of developing lung cancer, however non-smokers and those exposed to other environmental hazards can also have nodules that progress to an invasive cancer. All lung cancers start with a lung nodule, so that’s why early detection and timely follow-up is critical.
We know that early detection and treatment of lung cancer is essential for the best outcomes. It is estimated that more than 1.5 million adults will have a lung nodule identified each year, and only 29% receive appropriate follow up care. Our Comprehensive Lung Nodule Clinic uses an evidence-based, streamlined approach to provide you with prompt evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment using a multi-specialty healthcare team. You’ll also have immediate access to Thoracic Oncology and numerous other specialists within UK Healthcare and Markey Cancer Center.
You can expect to be seen within one to two weeks of a referral or after calling the clinic. You will work closely with our Lung Nodule Coordinator, Holly Stilz, PA-C, and Nurse Navigator, Lesley Hubbard, RN, BSN. Our thorough evaluation is aimed at detecting lung cancer early, while decreasing the number of unnecessary tests, surgeries, or invasive procedures. During your visit, you’ll receive:
- Detailed inventory of personal health history, including smoking and family history, and potential environmental exposures such as the presence of radon in your home or exposure to hazardous materials at work
- Evaluation and clinical assessment by the PA-C for nodule(s) identified from an imaging study (Chest CT, CXR, MRI, abdominal CT, PET scan, etc), and review of prior imaging studies for comparison
- 1:1 consultation with the PA-C, including recommendations and referrals for further testing, biopsies, treatment, or referrals, if appropriate
- The Nurse Navigator and PA-C will be the designated point of contact for scheduling and coordinating appointments as well as answering any questions or concerns
- Integration of lung nodule surveillance or monitoring of ongoing care
- Patient education to manage risks and symptoms
- Update referring providers regularly
Our lung nodule coordinator and nurse navigator work with you every step of the way to guide you through the healthcare system and ensure high-quality nodule evaluation based on current recommendations. We offer long term monitoring, scheduling, and tracking of follow-up appointments and scans.
Many patients will be observed with a periodic series of CT scans to monitor the nodule, while some may require immediate further investigation. A growing or changing nodule can indicate possible cancer, detected only through monitoring. If you are at increased risk of cancer, we offer timely intervention to obtain additional diagnostic testing or biopsy, including state-of-the-art minimally-invasive approaches in Thoracic Surgery, Interventional Pulmonology, and Diagnostic Radiology.
The Comprehensive Lung Nodule Program is part of the Markey Cancer Center Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program, a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated facility. If diagnosed with a malignancy, your evaluation will move smoothly and quickly to the Markey Cancer Center, where we will provide expertise and personalized care and treatment plans suited for your needs, and serve as a liaison between you and other specialists, including surgeons, pulmonologists, oncologists, and radiation oncologists.
We work closely with referring providers, patients, emergency room departments, and radiologists to capture patients with incidental findings. If you have been diagnosed with a pulmonary nodule, or if you would like to refer a patient to our program, call 859-562-2386 and speak to our nurse navigator, Lesley Hubbard, RN, BSN.
Providers may also call 800-888-5533 to refer patients via UK MDs.