Surgeons associated with Washington University Physicians in Illinois Inc., will begin seeing lung and esophagus cancer patients in Shiloh in July. Initial consultations are available at Siteman Cancer Center at Memorial Hospital Shiloh, 1418 Cross St.
Lung cancer is the No. 7 cause of death and the leading cause of cancer death in St. Clair County, according to the St. Clair County Community Health Improvement Plan. The new clinic helps address a critical health-care need identified in the plan, which calls for St. Clair County to be among the top 25 percent of healthiest counties in Illinois by 2025.
Comprising the cancer research, prevention and treatment programs of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the School of Medicine, Siteman is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Southern Illinois and Missouri. Such cancer centers are funded by NCI to deliver cutting-edge cancer treatments to patients and also are recognized for their leadership and the breadth and depth of their research.
“As the region’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, it is our strong desire and responsibility to address the leading cancer concerns of the Metro East community,” said Bryan Meyers, MD, the Patrick and Joy Williamson Endowed Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery and chief of thoracic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “We are here for patients and their families, and we bring with us the expertise of one the nation’s top medical schools.”
Patients will be seen by Varun Puri, MD, a professor of surgery, and Ruben Nava, MD, an assistant professor of surgery, both also of the School of Medicine. The surgeons work with other lung cancer specialists, including medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, to tailor the right treatment plan for each patient.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach for lung cancer care,” Meyers said. “Our team of specialists focuses on the unique needs of every individual we see.”
Appointments for the lung and esophagus cancer clinic at Memorial Hospital Shiloh can be made by calling Siteman’s Patient Care Coordination Center at (800) 600-3606 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, or online at siteman.wustl.edu.
According to the St. Clair Community Health Improvement Plan, the county has a significantly higher mortality rate for lung cancer than the state of Illinois. In St. Clair County, 55 of every 100,000 people died of lung cancer in 2015, compared to 43.3 in the entire state.
Tobacco use is a leading, but not the only, risk factor for lung cancer and esophagus cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Alcohol use is another risk factor for esophagus cancer, which affects the lining of the tube that connects the throat with the stomach. Symptoms include chest discomfort or pain, a cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time, trouble breathing and wheezing.
To estimate a person’s risk of lung cancer, visit Siteman’s Your Disease Risk website. The free online tool doesn’t say if an individual will get cancer or not, but it does suggest ways to lower risk.
In addition to its NCI designation, Siteman has been named the No. 11 cancer center nationally by U.S. News & World Report, which also ranked Washington University School of Medicine No. 6 on the magazine’s “2021 Best Medical Schools: Research” list.