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2008 Press Releases
Morton Plant North Bay Hospital Announces Formation of Thoracic Program, Offers New Surgery to Treat Lung Cancer

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla., (August 4, 2008) - Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer. In Pasco County, one in four adults smoke and an average of 430 deaths occur each year due to lung cancer according to the 2007 Pasco County Health Department’s Community Health Profile Report. The new Morton Plant North Bay Hospital Thoracic Program combines a dedicated team of lung specialists to quickly diagnose and treat lung cancer at its earliest stages and a new minimally invasive surgical treatment for early detected lung cancer with the goal of improving a patient’s quality of life.

“The Morton Plant North Bay Thoracic Program is unlike any other hospital program in Pasco County. Not only does it offer patients a multidisciplinary, personalized approach to diagnosing lung disease and treating it, we’ve also streamlined the process. Lung cancer testing and diagnosis is potentially done in half the time,” said John D. Couris, administrator and chief operating officer, Morton Plant North Bay Hospital.

Typically a lung patient might wait up to two months to be seen by a lung specialist and make several visits to a hospital to undergo tests. Because the Morton Plant North Bay Thoracic Program has created a centralized clinic setting, patients may be referred by their physician or health care provider to the program where many times only one clinic visit may be necessary to accurately diagnose lung cancer. When the patient enters the program at the Morton Plant North Bay Cardiovascular Center they will meet with a nurse and undergo testing that may include pulmonary function testing, a computed tomography (CT) scan and blood tests.

“The patient makes one trip to the hospital for all of the initial medical tests that are typically necessary to make a diagnosis of lung cancer or another lung disease and we potentially catch the cancer earlier. We know the earlier lung cancer is diagnosed and treated, the greater a patient’s survivability,” said Dr. Louis Astra, vascular and thoracic surgeon and medical director of the Morton Plant North Bay Thoracic Program.

Following testing, a team of physicians including a thoracic surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and a pulmonologist will review a patient’s case and develop a personalized treatment and follow up care plan. A nurse navigator then contacts the patient to discuss their test results and treatment options that may include access to advanced surgical care. A Morton Plant North Bay surgeon is the first in Pasco County to perform a thoracoscopic lobectomy – a new minimally invasive surgery that’s helping patients with early stage lung cancer recover more quickly - from months to weeks with less pain.

“Traditional lung cancer surgery requires a large incision in the chest to cut through muscles and spread open the ribs to remove lung cancer. A thoracoscopic lobectomy requires only a few small incisions and the insertion of a tiny camera to see the diseased area and remove it. Very little muscle is cut and the ribs are not spread,” said Dr. Astra.

About Lung Cancer

According to the American Lung Association:

  • Lung cancer results in more than deaths in the U.S. than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined
  • The number of deaths due to lung cancer has increased approximately 4 percent between 1999 and 2004 from 152,156 to 158,009
  • Smoking accounts for 87 percent of lung cancer deaths
  • An estimated 358,128 Americans are living with lung cancer
  • Men have higher incidence rates of lung cancer than females 
  • The expected 5-year survival rate for all patients in whom lung cancer is diagnosed is 16 percent

About Morton Plant North Bay Hospital, Morton Plant Mease Health Care

Established in 1965, Morton Plant North Bay Hospital is a 122-bed facility committed to improving the health of everyone it serves. Morton Plant North Bay’s stroke care program has received the highest level of recognition - the Gold Seal of ApprovalTM for Primary Stroke Care from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). The hospitals of Morton Plant Mease Health Care are part of the first group of hospitals nationally to have earned re-certification of the Gold Seal of Approval™ for stroke care from the Joint Commission. In 2008, the hospital was awarded Magnet Designation for the second time by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the most prestigious national recognition of excellence in nursing care. Morton Plant North Bay Hospital is located at 6600 Madison Street, New Port Richey, Fla., (727) 842-8468.

Nationally recognized for health care excellence, Morton Plant Mease Health Care is dedicated to providing community owned health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care. Morton Plant Mease Health Care is comprised of the following hospitals – Morton Plant, Clearwater; Mease Dunedin, Dunedin; Mease Countryside, Safety Harbor and Morton Plant North Bay, New Port Richey.

Contact: Beth Hardy (727) 298-6199, (727) 402-8113 or Amy Morrow (727) 461-8538 Phone, (727) 402-5975 Pager