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Thoracic & Lung Health

Why choose Chesapeake Regional Healthcare for Thoracic and Lung Health?

The Thoracic and Lung Health Program is comprised of medical experts who have extensive knowledge of lung nodule management. Screening for lung cancer increases the chances of detecting the disease early, when it’s most treatable, and potentially most curable. Healthy habits are promoted, and when necessary, we help patients find the most effective treatments available.

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the leading cause of cancer death. Smoking is the cause of about 85 percent of all lung cancer cases, and the risk increases with age. About 37 percent of U.S. adults are current or former smokers.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 92,000 men and 81,000 women are diagnosed each year with cancer of the lungs and bronchi (the air tubes leading to the lungs). Among men, the incidence of lung cancer has been declining; however, lung cancer is the largest cause of cancer deaths for women in the United States, affecting an estimated 73,000 women each year - more than breast and ovarian cancers combined. Our nurse navigator will help provide you with more information.

Low-dose CT Lung Screenings can help you detect cancer early, when it’s easier to treat. Do you qualify?

Take a Short Quiz on Your Lung Health

Our Thoracic and Lung Health Program is comprehensive

Chesapeake Regional Healthcare brings together a multi-disciplinary group of clinicians and advanced diagnostics in one comfortable setting. It’s a unique offering, allowing us to provide the finest care tailored exclusively for our patients. From CT scans to smoking cessation and prevention to thoracic surgery, our highly skilled physicians, staff and supportive nurse navigator provide the highest quality, cost-effective care.

Personalized, patient-centered care

We understand that every patient has different needs, circumstances and challenges and each treatment plan should be customized. Our physicians share their areas of expertise with each other to develop an in-depth medical strategy specific to your condition and situation. This multi-disciplinary team works diligently to provide you with comfortable, compassionate and reassuring care, focused on you and your health.

Innovative technology, close to home

We know you want your care to be of the highest quality and as close to your home as possible. Our team provides high-level diagnostic and treatment options, including molecular testing, interventional pulmonology and robotic surgery. Together, they work to ensure coordination of care for patients who enjoy the benefit of complex therapies in a community hospital setting. For certain thoracic surgical procedures, Dr. Skaryak, our board-certified surgeon uses the daVinci® Surgical System. This highly advanced surgical option is powered by state-of-the-art robotic technology resulting in:

  • Less pain
  • Less risk of infection
  • Less scarring
  • A shorter hospital stay
  • Smaller incision
  • Quicker recovery

A dedicated nurse navigator

Our commitment to patient-centered thoracic care begins with Vicky West, RN, BSN, who works with both physicians and patients to provide seamless case management and personalized patient support. Patients benefit from a dedicated nurse navigator who is available to answer questions about treatment and counseling. She offers support and guidance during your journey to ensure that you receive the highest quality, supportive care.

Take a Short Quiz on Your Lung Health

Education & Events

SMOKING CESSATION INFORMATION

Chesapeake Regional Healthcare promotes good health and healthy habits. Tobacco cessation is imperative to ensuring healthy lifestyle and body. There are a number of smoking cessation programs available:

  • 1-800-QUIT-NOW: A quitline is a tobacco cessation service available through a toll-free telephone number. Quitlines are staffed by counselors trained specifically to help smokers quit by creating a personalized plan based on history and motivators.
  • www.smokefree.gov

 

Prevention

There's no sure way to prevent lung cancer, but you can reduce your risk if you:

  • Don't smoke. If you've never smoked, don't start. Talk to your children about not smoking so that they can understand how to avoid this major risk factor for lung cancer. Begin conversations about the dangers of smoking with your children early so that they know how to react to peer pressure.
  • Stop smoking now. Quitting reduces your risk of lung cancer, even if you've smoked for years. Talk to your doctor about strategies and stop-smoking aids that can help you quit. Options include nicotine replacement products, medications, support groups, hyponosis and acupuncture.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke. If you live or work with a smoker, urge him or her to quit. At the very least, ask him or her to smoke outside. Avoid areas where people smoke, such as bars, restaurants and cars with smokers, and seek out smoke-free options.
  • Test your home for radon. Have the radon levels in your home checked, especially if you live in an area where radon is known to be a problem. High radon levels can be remedied to make your home safer. For information on radon testing, contact your local department of public health or a local chapter of the American Lung Association.
  • Avoid carcinogens at work. Take precautions to protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals at work. Follow your employer's precautions. For instance, if you're given a face mask for protection, always wear it. Ask your doctor what more you can do to protect yourself at work. Your risk of lung damage from workplace carcinogens increases if you smoke.
  • Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Choose a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Food sources of vitamins and nutrients are best. Avoid taking large doses of vitamins in pill form, as they may be harmful. For instance, researchers hoping to reduce the risk of lung cancer in heavy smokers gave them beta carotene supplements. Results showed the supplements actually increased the risk of cancer in smokers.
  • Exercise most days of the week. If you don't exercise regularly, start out slowly. Try to exercise most days of the week.

CT Lung Screening

Early detection is our priority

Screening high risk patients for lung nodules can help the physician and patient look for signs of lung cancer before symptoms occur. The goal of screening is to detect the disease early in its course, when it is easier to treat. When using low-dose computed tomography (CT) imaging, more than 80 percent of lung cancers have a chance to be cured when detected at an early stage.

The low-dose CT lung scan, available at Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, covers the entire chest and provides a more detailed look than a standard chest x-ray. The screening itself takes only about 15 minutes and requires no preparation or contrast injections. Our nurse navigator will also guide you through follow-up care and critical disease-prevention measures, such as smoking cessation programs.

If a lung nodule is found, our multi-disciplinary team, including our thoracic surgeon, nurse navigator, pulmonologists and oncologists, work in partnership with our patients to determine an individualized care plan. Participants in the screening are not obligated to return to Chesapeake Regional Healthcare for treatment or follow-up.

Who is a candidate for CT lung screening?

If you’re a smoker or former smoker, early detection is the key to preventing more serious problems later. Low-dose CT lung screening gives you the ability to take that positive first step to safeguard your health.

Based on the National Lung Screening Trial and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, guidelines and recommendations for testing are:

  • Current or former heavy smokers
  • 55 to 77 years old
  • Less than 15 years since quitting
  • No signs, symptoms or a personal history of cancer within five years
  • Asymptomatic
  • Heavy smokers (or former smokers) would have a smoking history of at least 30 pack years, calculated by multiplying the average number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years a person has smoked.

Low-dose CT Lung Screenings can help you detect cancer early, when it’s easier to treat. Do you qualify? 

Take a Short Quiz on Your Lung Health

Are there risks to CT lung screening?

Although low-dose computed tomography (CT) lung screening is the best way to detect lung nodules and disease, they come with a slight risk. The CT lung scans use radiation to create images of your lung. Radiation may increase a person’s risk of cancer. Our highly skilled radiologists use special techniques, ensuring the radiation exposure during a low-dose CT lung screening is small—slightly higher than that of a mammogram. However, most primary health care providers agree that the benefits of the screening outweigh the risks of being exposed to the small amount of radiation from this exam. The screening requires no preparation or contrast injections. Our nurse navigator will guide you through follow-up care.

What is the cost of the screening and will it be covered by my insurance?

Screenings are covered by most insurances. Should you have any positive findings on your exam and require follow up diagnostic scans, insurance should also cover those scans. Check with your provider to learn more about coverage.

How do I schedule my appointment?

If you are a self-referral, please contact our nurse navigator at (757) 312-3012.

Need a second opinion?

If you have an abnormal chest x- ray or CT of the lung, or if you are seeking a second opinion, you can be seen within 24-48 hours for an evaluation. A physician referral is not necessary to contact us. Our nurse navigator is always available to answer questions and help you make an initial appointment. You will leave the clinic with a plan of care the same day as your consultation. All referrals will still have the option of continuing their treatment with their primary care physicians after their consultation with our team.

As a patient you have access to a team of physician’s specialists including:

  • Thoracic Surgeon: a doctor who treats diseases of the lungs and chest with surgery.
  • Pulmonologist: a doctor who specializes in medical treatment of diseases of the lungs.
  • Radiation Oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Medical Oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy.
  • Pathologist: a doctor who specializes in structural and chemical changes that occur because of diseases.
  • Radiologist: a doctor who specializes in interpretation of X-rays.

Lung Nodule Clinic

What is a lung nodule?

A pulmonary nodule is an abnormality in the lung that is smaller than 3 cm (slightly larger than an inch) in diameter. Generally, a pulmonary nodule must grow to at least 1 cm (the size of a pea) in diameter before it can be seen on a chest x-ray. CT Scans can detect nodules less than 1 cm in size.

Pulmonary nodules are surrounded by normal lung tissue and are not associated with any other abnormality in the lung or nearby lymph nodes.

  • People with a lung nodule or nodule(s) do not experience symptoms.
  • Lung nodules are usually found by chance on a chest x-ray or CT scan taken for another reason.
  • Lung nodules are one of the most common abnormalities seen on radiographic images.
  • Approximately 150,000 cases are detected every year, on x-ray films or CT Scans.
  • Most lung nodules are benign (noncancerous); however, they may represent an early stage of primary lung cancer.

If your scan is abnormal, you may be seen in the lung nodule clinic staffed by a pulmonologist and thoracic surgeon. Your case will be reviewed and a diagnostic/treatment option will be recommended (e.g., follow-up imaging, need for biopsy or surgery). Determining whether the lung nodule is benign or malignant is important. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of early lung cancer, presenting as a lung nodule, may be the only chance to cure the cancer.

Navigational Bronchoscopy

Chesapeake Regional Healthcare is pleased to offer a more efficient and safer method of biopsy of lung nodules and masses for patients with hard-to-reach lesions on their lung, with no incision necessary. This system navigates through a patient’s airway to the suspicious lesion deep in the lungs, with lower radiation to the patient, physician and staff.

Similar to GPS technology used in a car, our navigational bronchoscopy works with a standard CT image of the patient’s lung, which is used to automatically create a “route” to the lesion allowing physicians to easily biopsy and place markers for planned treatment.

With minimal discomfort for the patient, this new procedure helps to avoid the need for higher-risk procedures to obtain a tissue diagnosis.

Patient Care Team

To tackle cancer and other lung diseases, it takes more than a great doctor by your side—it takes a whole team of them. Our oncologists, thoracic surgeons, radiation oncologists, interventional radiologists, primary care physicians, pathologists and pulmonologists all work together to support patients and tailor the very best treatment to meet each person’s individual needs.

 

NURSE NAVIGATOR

Vicky West, R.N., B.S.N.
Thoracic and Lung Health Nurse Navigator
Our commitment to patient-centered thoracic care begins with Vicky West, R.N., B.S.N. As our Thoracic and Lung Health Nurse Navigator, West works with both physicians and patients to provide seamless case management and personalized patient support. She earned her Bachelor of Nursing degree from Old Dominion University and has been a nurse for more than 34 years, with hands-on experience in critical care and endoscopy.

 

PHYSICIAN

Lynne Skaryak, M.D., Thoracic Surgeon
Medical Director
Dr. Lynne Skaryak teams with other specialists to ensure our patients are provided with excellent clinical care. She received her medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C. She completed both her general surgery and cardiothoracic residencies at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Skaryak is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. She has been involved in many multi-disciplinary thoracic oncology clinics and tumor boards for the most up-to-date care of patients. Dr. Skaryak specializes in malignancies of the lung, esophagus and chest wall.

Melhem Imad, M.D., Interventional Pulmonologist
Dr. Imad is one of the only Interventional Pulmonologist in the Hampton Roads and Northern North Carolina area. As an Interventional Pulmonologist, Dr. Imad specializes in minimally invasive procedures for diagnosis, treatment and palliation of lung cancer, as well as other disorders. He is board-certified in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine and received his Doctorate of Medicine at the Lebanese University, Faculty of Medical Sciences in Lebanon. Dr. Imad completed an Internal Medicine Residency and Internship at Staten Island University Hospital in Staten Island, New York. He then went on to complete a Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. In 2011, Dr. Imad completed an additional year of training in Interventional Pulmonology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland.

 

Thoracic & Lung Health