Lung cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in the Mahoning Valley

By Mercy Health

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Sometimes the smallest spot can lead to the largest concerns for patients. And rightfully so.

It’s a scary predicament to learn that a nodule was detected in your lung cancer screening.

But the positive news is that the presence of a nodule doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cancer – in fact in 95 percent of the cases it’s NOT cancer.

Secondly, if it turns out to be of concern enough to a physician to be prescribed a follow-up visit, or if it’s diagnosed as cancerous, Mercy Health – Youngstown is well-equipped to treat it right here close to home.

Earlier this year Mercy Health opened the Mahoning Valley’s first Lung Nodule Clinic.

“The clinic is a dedicated center where expert pulmonology care can be accessed, and it further enhances the comprehensive nature of what we can offer the community to treat lung cancer,” said Vanessa Chamberlain, lung nodule navigator, Mercy Health Lung Nodule Center.

The clinic also partners with the hospital’s lung screening program, which screens hundreds of patients each year at six sites across the Mahoning Valley.

“We have many patients that have no other pulmonology issues, therefore they end up waiting weeks to months to see a pulmonologist – now they can often be seen within days at our Center, resulting in earlier diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer,” Chamberlain said.

Lung nodules are typically benign masses that can result from an infection. However, a small percentage of these nodules are actually early lung cancers that require immediate action. Nearly 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with lung nodules each year.

Closest to home, lung and bronchus cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in the Mahoning Valley, and it results in the most cancer deaths here, as well.

“By offering both the screening services and the comprehensive Center, if we need to respond with a biopsy or further testing, we can decrease the time a patient is waiting to see a doctor,” Chamberlain said.

As a lung nodule navigator, Chamberlain helps guide patients through the process after a nodule is found by educating them and keeping in contact regarding follow-up screenings. Mercy Health is the only entity in the area that offers this navigator service for lung nodule patients.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure patients are getting the follow-up that they need,” she said.

When reviewing medical information with patients, Chamberlain seeks to address misconceptions of lung nodules.

“Patients can be nervous if a small nodule is found, thinking it’s cancerous,” she said. “They want to follow up sooner or have it taken out immediately. We really have to talk them down and stress that we need to wait and see if it grows.”

Follow-up screenings are based on guidelines for the size of a nodule.

“If the nodule is a certain size, you could come back in a month versus three months or six months,” Chamberlain said. “The bigger the nodule, the quicker you need to come back for follow-up testing.”

If the nodule does progress to cancer, Mercy Health offers a full range of surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation treatments.

For more information on lung cancer screenings and treatment, call 330-480-3433 or visit

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