Franciscan Health teaming up doctors to develop treatment plans for cancer patients

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INDIANAPOLIS — The American Cancer Society has good news for lung cancer patients: deaths from that disease have been dropping for both men and women since 1990.

One of the big reasons is fewer people are taking up smoking. But doctors at Franciscan Health are joining together to develop comprehensive treatment plans which are more efficient for them and beneficial for their lung cancer patients.

 One such patient is 68-year-old Richard Leach. He had been a smoker for twenty years but managed to quit. When his girlfriend heard about inexpensive lung scans offered at Franciscan, she urged him to get checked. He did, and the scan turned up a nodule in his upper right lung.

Leach was told doctors would monitor the nodule and in 2019 he was rescanned. The image revealed the tumor had grown. By then, Leach was part of Franciscan Health’s lung cancer clinic, which is a group of highly trained specialists, cardiothoracic surgeons, radiologists, oncologists, nurse navigators and technicians. They met, reviewed leach’s history, looked at images of the tumor and developed a plan that they could use to monitor and treat his case. 

 “We all are very passionate about what we do,” says Dr. Manesh Parikshak, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Cardiac Surgery Associates. “I don’t say we have a heated discussion, but we definitely have a lot of discussion.”

His colleague, Dr Nadeem Ikhlaque, an oncologist, agrees. Getting all of the doctors together in one place is efficient and is extremely beneficial to the patient. There is no more running from doctor to doctor or office to office. A comprehensive treatment plan is put together in one place.

“it’s actually a very unique thing we do. It’s actually a very effective and productive strategy which we adopted over the last several years,” says Dr. Ikhlaque.

About a year and a half ago, Leach had the tumor biopsied and it came back to stage 1 B. Leach’s team of physicians decided to use the Davinci robot to remove leach’s tumor and upper right lobe of his lung. Eleven lymph nodes were also removed and biopsied. Today, Leach is cancer free.

“It couldn’t have been any easier,” says Leach. “I can’t say enough good things about Franciscan Health and the care I was given.

Leach never underwent radiation or chemotherapy. But those treatments are available for other lung cancer patients, depending on their diagnosis. 

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