Lung Cancer Awareness Month with MWHC

Experienced Lung Cancer Care in Fredericksburg Region

A significant advance in diagnosing lung cancer has occurred in recent years.  The National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST) was a national project that proved conclusively that LDCT (low-dose CT scan) is a superior screening tool in detecting early-stage lung cancer compared to the traditional x-ray.

Screening Criteria

The American Cancer Society advises that health care providers, and people at increased risk for lung cancer, follow the recently updated recommendations for annual lung cancer screening from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), or the American College of Chest Physicians.
These organizations recommend yearly lung cancer screening with LDCT scans for people who:

  • Are 50 to 80 years old and in fairly good health,
  • Currently smoke or have quit in the past 15 years,
  • Have at least a 20 pack-year smoking history. (This is the number of packs of cigarettes per day multiplied by the number of years smoked. For example, someone who smoked 2 packs a day for 10 years [2 x 10 = 20] has 20 pack-years of smoking, as does a person who smoked 1 pack a day for 20 years [1 x 20 = 20].)

In addition, it’s important that people who are going to be screened:

  • Receive counseling to quit smoking if they currently smoke,
  • Have been told by their doctor about the possible benefits, limits, and harms of screening with LDCT scans,
  • Can go to a center that has experience in lung cancer screening and treatment.


Diagnostic Procedures

To determine if you have lung cancer, your physician may also order the following tests:

  • Needle biopsy
  • Bronchoscopy / Ion Robotic Bronchoscopy
  • Endobronchial Ultrasound
  • Mediastinoscopy
  • Thoracoscopy
  • MRI, PET, or bone scans

Chemotherapy/Immunotherapy for Lung Cancer

Chemotherapy is designed to provide interference with a cancer cell’s growth and reproduction.  Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s immune system to destroy cancer cells.  Oncologists develop individualized treatment plans for patients, depending on the drugs effect on fighting cancer cells.  Chemotherapy and immunotherapy may be used alone, or before or after other treatments.

Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer

High-energy radiation is used to shrink tumors and eliminate cancer cells.  Radiation therapy may be combined with chemotherapy/immunotherapy for lung cancer treatment.

Mechanisms to deliver radiation therapy include:

  • External radiation (external beam therapy)
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy / Radiosurgery


Surgery for Lung Cancer 

The Regional Cancer Center’s Lung Cancer Program is managed by J. Timothy Sherwood, MD, one of the leading thoracic surgeons in the United States.  A former associate professor at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dr. Sherwood has a dedicated thoracic surgery practice in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  While at Mary Washington Healthcare, Dr. Sherwood has developed a high-volume thoracic surgery program serving as a regional referral center which boasts outcomes comparable to major university medical centers.  He treats patients from across the country, who are referred to the Regional Cancer Center for the most advanced surgeries.  This makes the Regional Cancer Center’s lung cancer program one of the truly unique programs of its kind.  Dr. Sherwood has a special surgical team and operates exclusively at Mary Washington Hospital, a tertiary-care medical center with large surgical suites to accommodate specialized surgical teams and equipment.  We also have dedicated services for post-surgical care for lung cancer.


VATS / RATS Procedures

Dr. Sherwood uses a state-of-the-art technique known as video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) that enables the surgeon to see and work inside the chest with very small incisions and special instruments.  A small camera, called a thoracoscope, is inserted through one incision to capture a clear image of the operative area.  Dr. Sherwood views this image on a video screen while performing the procedure using specialized surgical instruments inserted into the chest through other tiny incisions.  He also performs robotic-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (RATS) for cancer surgery.  Both VATS/RATS technique has dramatically changed thoracic surgery by eliminating the need for large painful incisions in the chest.

Types of Surgery:

  • Segmental or wedge resection
  • Lobectomy
  • Pneumonectomy
  • Sleeve resection


We are here to help

For more information or to talk with a Cancer Nurse Navigator, please call 540.741.1211.


Our Cancer Nurse Navigators can help with:

  • Answering questions and providing educational materials on cancer and specific types of cancer
  • Explaining your diagnosis and treatment every step of the way
  • Emotional support, including one-on-one time and recommendations for counseling services
  • Coordination on your plan of care between your primary care and oncology physicians
  • Access to clinical trials
  • Recommendations on resources for nutrition, rehabilitation, transportation, support groups, financial assistance, and spiritual and emotional guidance
  • Making important connections with community support services and resources
  • Survivorship support


For more information, or to talk with a Cancer Nurse Navigator, please call 540.741.1211.