Paul Beats Lung Cancer with Emerson

Paul Carter and his care team

Pictured above: Paul Carter with some members of his Emerson care team, including (from left) medical oncologist Uma Narayanasami, MD; Naka Infusion Center oncology nurse navigator Stephanie Girouard, RN, BSN; and radiation oncologist John McGrath, MD, medical director, Mass General Department of Radiology at Emerson Hospital.

Paul Carter was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 64 after a routine low-dose CT scan (LDCT) at Emerson Hospital. Paul smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for nearly 40 years, making him the perfect candidate for LDCT, the gold standard for lung cancer screening. The LDCT screening detected Paul’s cancer early — while it was curable — and helped save his life, along with his team at Mass General Cancer Center at Emerson Hospital – Bethke.

Take this quick health risk assessment to determine your risk of lung cancer and help determine if you are a candidate for LDCT.

Following his diagnosis, his primary care physician, Marguerite Roach, MD, with Lincoln Physicians, referred him to Peter Barkin, MD, a pulmonologist, and Hugh Auchincloss, MD, a thoracic surgeon at Emerson. Paul did not know what he would need to fight his cancer. But he knew he was in expert hands at Emerson.

“Before I even met with these doctors, they had already met to discuss my care,” explains Paul. The physicians talked about his care during a thoracic tumor board meeting attended by thoracic surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, pulmonologists, pathologists, and radiologists. “Within a month, I had surgery to remove the right upper lobe of my lung where the cancer was,” reflects Paul.

After he recovered from surgery, Paul was referred to Uma Narayanasami, MD, who prescribed chemotherapy at Emerson’s Naka Infusion Center, and John McGrath, MD, for radiation, all conveniently right at Emerson.

“My daughter is a doctor. She is very happy with the care I received. It is comforting to have Mass General care at Emerson. During this time, I moved from Littleton, Massachusetts, to North Providence, Rhode Island. I drive over 100 miles round trip to Emerson for all my appointments — that is how much I trust my medical team and how much they mean to me.”

Expert Care Throughout Emerson

Based on the type of cancer Paul had, he received an MRI of the brain at Emerson. Due to the chemotherapy, he also needed a hearing test, which, through the coordinated and affiliated care at Emerson, he received from Michael Fattal, MD, at Mass General Brigham Mass Eye and Ear, Concord.

“This was a scary time. The physicians, nurses, and staff were all top-notch. I could not imagine having more competent people on my team. Their experience and humanity got me through it.”

Today, Paul is cancer free. He biked more than 1,400 miles all over New England in 2021, enjoys time with his young granddaughters, and travels. Paul comes to Emerson for immunotherapy infusions and regular PET and CT scans to monitor cancer recurrence.

“When you have cancer, it makes a big difference to have people on your team who are experts in their field and are also hopeful, caring, and upbeat. Their compassion was so important — it inspired me to get better.”

Dr. Narayanasami, Paul’s medical oncologist, explains: “Patients with cancer often require a multidisciplinary team of experts to identify a treatment plan for their unique needs. In partnership with our colleagues in Concord and Boston, the Mass General Cancer Center at Emerson Hospital team uses the latest advances in cancer diagnosis and care. Having direct access to research and clinical trials at Mass General gives our patients the best possible outcomes.

“What is unique about our Cancer Center in Concord is the community setting that allows for more personal connections, an essential component to treating the entire patient holistically.”

Early Detection Proven to Save Lives

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer among men and women. Detecting cancer in the early stages is essential to a healthy outcome. A low-dose CT scan interpreted by a board-certified radiologist with expertise in reading LDCTs can save your life, as it did for Paul.

LDCT uses low-dose X-rays to create detailed 3D pictures of your lungs, showing abnormal areas that a chest X-ray might miss. LDCT scans are recommended for people who meet all of the following criteria*:

  • Ages 50 to 80
  • Currently smoke or quit smoking in the last 15 years
  • Have a 20 pack-year average history of smoking;
    • A pack-year is one pack of cigarettes per day per year

Talk with your physician about screening if you are at risk for lung cancer.

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