Dr. Dustin Walters is a fellowship-trained thoracic surgeon with Tufts Medical Center who is building a Comprehensive Thoracic Program at Lowell General Hospital thanks to our hospitals’ Wellforce partnership.
Dr. Walters is primarily seeing patients diagnosed with lung nodules identified through routine lung screening, but is also working with patients with hernias, esophageal disorders and other thoracic conditions.
Q&A with Dr. Walters, Thoracic Surgeon
My grandfather died of lung cancer and my mother was a nurse, so I developed interests in surgery and cancer care through them. In medical school I explored all the options and really liked surgery. During my residency I chose thoracic surgery because they are interesting operations and technically complex.
We want to provide the same level of care that patients can get in Boston or any other major academic medical center, close to home and close to their families where they can be easily and efficiently seen. We should be able to provide just as good care in terms of quality as anywhere else.
I’ve been really impressed. The multidisciplinary approach to cancer care is excellent and the quality of the
physicians is outstanding. I see no drop off in care here. We’re able to do all the things that major tertiary academic centers can do
The goal is to catch cancer in its earliest stage while they still have curative options, and lung cancer screening is the single best screening test we have for cancer. We are saving a life for every 320 patients we screen.
Most lung cancers are diagnosed late, and when patients have advanced lung cancer it can be difficult to impossible to cure. Early lung cancer is very treatable with very high rates of cure. We’ve seen many patients come through our clinic who have had small nodules in their lungs found during screening that turned out to be cancers. We’ve been able to address these with real curative intent.
Everything we do here we try to do minimally invasively, through small incisions. We are also administering
what we call advanced recovery pathways, which are very novel in the field of thoracic surgery but offer
superior outcomes, better satisfaction, less pain and decreased length of stay in the hospital.
We are trying to do things to get the patient normalized as soon as possible. We are doing things like minimizing the amount of narcotic pain medication by maximizing things that are not narcotics, like nerve blocks with long-acting, local anesthetics to help with pain. We want to get patients up and moving around so we can get them back to their normal state as soon as possible.
Do You Qualify for Lung Cancer Screening?
Lung cancer screening is quick and easy. You may qualify for a Low Dose CT (LDCT) for Lung Cancer Screening if you meet all of these criteria:
- Are between 55 and 77 years old
- Have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer
- Are a current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years
- Have smoked the equivalent of at least one pack a day for 30 years
- Do not have any general health/other exclusions
If you qualify, you will need an order from your physician to schedule your screening exam.
If you have any questions related to our Lung Cancer Screening Program, please contact our Lung Cancer Screening Program Ambassador at 978-614-3202.