Lung Cancer: Early Detection is Key. Patient Benefits From Our Multidisciplinary Approach to Cancer Care

Lung Cancer: Early Detection is Key. Patient Benefits From Our Multidisciplinary Approach to Cancer Care

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Mark Nash walks on a shaded path with his wife, Donna, who has been by his side throughout his cancer treatment.

In 2016, Mark Nash got more than he bargained for when he had double knee replacement surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. The now 78-year-old Bethesda resident received a routine pre-surgery chest X-ray, and his internist, Ernest Oser, MD, found a lesion on the left lung. "And although it was small, he said it should be monitored," Nash recalls.

Fast forward to February 2020. During a regular checkup, doctors found that his lesion had grown. Nash was referred to pulmonologist Jessica Wang Memoli, MD, at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Fortunately for Nash, Dr. Wang Memoli and thoracic surgeon John Lazar, MD, had recently introduced a new technology—the Auris Monarch® Platform, a revolutionary robotic navigational bronchoscopy tool—as a signature part of the Lung and Esophageal Center at MedStar Washington.

The tool reaches lesions a traditional bronchoscope cannot and determines whether they are cancerous. With lung lesions, early detection is vital, because symptoms often appear when the cancer has progressed to a later stage.

Nash was a perfect candidate for robotic bronchoscopy.

Drs. Lazar and Wang Memoli performed the Monarch robotic bronchoscopy on April 8. Mr. Nash's lesion was biopsied as a stage 2 lung cancer, using an endo-bronchial ultrasound (EBUS). Dr. Lazar said the cancer was very treatable, with surgery followed by chemotherapy.

On April 20, Dr. Lazar performed robotic surgery to remove the lesion. He took 20 percent of Nash's left lung and biopsied lymph nodes. One was found to be cancerous. He returned home after three days and began his recovery. Six weeks later, he started a three-month course of chemotherapy. That weakened him, he says, but he now has fully regained his strength.

Nash says he is so grateful to the doctors and staff who treated him. "They were always straightforward and never alarming," he says. "I believed I was in great hands from the beginning, and I was. They treated me like family."

Another turn

But his story continued. In a follow-up appointment in October, Dr. Lazar performed a diagnostic test. "Even though I was focused on his lungs," he says. "I checked everything and saw something on the lining of his bladder that concerned me."

He referred Nash to urologic oncologist Ross Krasnow, MD, at MedStar Washington. Dr. Krasnow diagnosed a second primary urothelial cancer in the bladder, totally unrelated to his previous lung cancer diagnosis. He treated it with minor endoscopic surgery and immunotherapy within the bladder, and Nash is now cancer-free.

Dr. Lazar says, "I think Mr. Nash's overall care and survival is a direct result of being taken care of in a tertiary institution where so many disciplines work together seamlessly."

"We are so grateful to Dr. Lazar for catching the bladder cancer and to Dr. Krasnow for treating it," says Nash's wife, Donna. "We found MedStar Health to be efficient and observant. And all this happened during COVID-19! The doctors were wonderful throughout. And though I couldn't be there with him because of the virus protocols, they stayed in touch by phone right after each procedure. That, and Mark's amazing attitude, got us through all of this."

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