Interdisciplinary approach to lung cancer treatment
Banner MD Anderson introduces the Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program
By Meghann Finn Sepulveda
Lung cancer patients can benefit from Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert’s new Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program, a unique collaboration between a multidisciplinary team of physicians and specialists, who work together to create a more effective, consistent and safer approach to treatment, which results in improved outcomes.
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most common cancer among men and women.
Under the care of dedicated physicians at Banner MD Anderson’s Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program — which includes a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, thoracic surgeon, pathologist and pulmonologist — this is far from a fragmented approach to care.
“The medical team meets once a week to review the complexities of each patient and align strategies to determine the treatment plan,” says Klaus Wagner, M.D., PhD, medical oncologist, Banner MD Anderson. “We care for each patient on an individualized basis to maximize outcomes.”
And it’s all done under one roof.
“It’s very nice to have all my tests, blood work and scans right there,” says Banner MD Anderson patient Aldean Arias, 72, of Mesa. “It’s very convenient.”
Lung cancer patients no longer need to worry about traveling between appointments and can avoid miscommunication between their team of physicians. Test results are viewed faster, leaving less room for error.
Aggressive approach to treatment
When it comes to lung cancer, staging and molecular test results determine prognosis. Pathologists perform molecular testing to see what makes the cancer tick on all Stage IV patients.
“We consider patients with Stage I, II or III potentially curable,” Wagner says. “Typically Stage IV patients with defined driver mutations do well on oral drugs and can beat the average survival rate of 10-12 months.”
For Stage IV patients with few metastases, treatment goes beyond the traditional methods and could involve consolidation radiation or surgery, in combination with induction chemotherapy or oral agents, which can increase the outcomes while providing symptom control.
“I am currently not undergoing any treatment following a year of chemotherapy and radiation,” Arias says.
Arias is a Stage IV lung cancer patient.
“I am fully aware of what my outcome will be, but today I feel good.”
Arias receives a CT scan every three to four months. Her last scan in December was clear.
New trend of younger patients
While the patient demographic is usually in the age range of 70-80 and includes smokers, there is a wide spectrum with younger patients being treated for lung cancer who have never smoked.
There is no scientific evidence that points to the cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, but experts say that environmental factors are thought to blame.
“These patients have likely been exposed to radon, radiation, or air pollution, including industrial or automotive, or have inhaled other harmful chemicals,” Wagner says.
The American Cancer Society claims people are exposed to radon indoors from within buildings and homes via pipes or cracks, and outdoors through soil and water.
Arias quit smoking 26 years ago. She was born and raised in Globe, Ariz., where she was potentially exposed to radioactive contamination during nuclear testing that took place in southern Nevada in the 1950s.
“We’ll never know if that caused my lung cancer, but the facts are there,” Arias says.
Several attractive clinical trials have opened up for lung cancer patients at Banner MD Anderson’s Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program.
“There haven’t been a lot of clinical studies that are solely dedicated to treating lung cancer patients here in the Valley,” Wagner said. “We are looking towards encouraging results with new cancer immunotherapy strategies for our metastatic Stage IV patients and will open up two of these clinical trials soon.”
Arias has a positive outlook on her life.
“I am focused on having the strength to make this journey and having the peace to walk it,” she said.
Meet the docs
Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program lung program is led by:
Klaus Wagner, MD, PhD is a medical oncologist at Banner MD Anderson in Gilbert, who focuses on thoracic and head and neck malignancies, and early clinical drug development. Besides treating cancer patients, Wagner is the local principal investigator of four lung cancer trials and performs translational research.
Wagner is trained as a physician-scientist. He received a medical degree and PhD from the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen in Germany. He completed a fellowship in medical oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. Wagner joined Banner MD Anderson in 2012.
Daniel Chamberlain, MD, is a radiation oncologist at Banner MD Anderson. Chamberlain received his doctor of medicine from Colombia University in New York in 2005. He completed postgraduate training in radiation oncology at Yale University School of Medicine.
Chamberlain is actively involved in clinical research, has published several poster presentations on clinical outcomes and has co-authored articles that have appeared in international medical journal publications.
Ronald Servi, DO, is a pulmonologist at Banner MD Anderson. Servi graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He then completed an internship at the Hospital of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and a residency in Internal Medicine at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.
As a board certified pulmonologist, Servi completed a fellowship in pulmonary medicine at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Prior to joining Banner MD Anderson, he was in private practice for 20 years in Phoenix.