Meet Nurse Navigator Andrea Rivera Rodriguez
Hi, my name is Andrea Rivera Rodriguez, CRNP, and I am a lung cancer screening navigator with Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Most people understand navigation and its role when it comes to GPS (Global Positioning System) mapping on your phone or in your vehicle, but navigating lung cancer screenings is a different story. Just like a GPS, I’m there for people when they are going through uncharted territory.
Certain people should have a regular lung cancer screening based on their risk factors for the disease. I help them schedule their appointments for a low-dose CT scan and make sure they’re coming back for follow-up screenings.
In its early stages, lung cancer often doesn’t have any symptoms. In some cases, the only way to detect early-stage lung cancer is through screening. Early-stage lung cancer can be cured, but finding the cancer early is critical.
Getting the results
Screening results lead to answers, so I work with different departments within LVHN to make sure that people get their screening results as quickly as possible. People can view all their results on the LVHN patient portal, MyLVHN. They can even ask their provider questions about the results through the portal.
Although the findings are available on the app, it’s still nice to have someone discuss them with you. I’m there to explain the findings and answer questions. It can be stressful for people when the screening uncovers something that requires follow-up or a biopsy. The stress can even make it difficult to comprehend the results. I make myself available night and day to patients and their families (with the patient’s permission) so they can ask any question, anytime.
All findings are reviewed by a multidisciplinary care team (MDC) at Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute. The MDC brings together providers from different areas of the health network. In that meeting, we decide who should receive a biopsy, and then I relay that information to the patient and anyone on that person’s care team who needs to know, such as a primary care provider.
If the biopsy comes back positive for cancer, I make sure that the person is connected with the right people based on the type of cancer and the cancer’s stage. Once someone is set up with an oncologist or surgeon, there will be another navigator to be by their side just like I was.
If you have three or more of the risk factors below, you should receive a lung screening.
Between the ages of 55 and 80 (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services places this range at 55 to 77 years)
Has a 30 pack-year smoking history (which means smoking one pack per day for 30 years; two packs per day for 15 years, etc.)
Currently smokes or quit smoking within the past 15 years
Making sure patients and their families are well informed is what motivates me every day. Speak with your primary care provider or other specialists about your risk for lung cancer. Early detection helps people start lung cancer treatment sooner. Learn more about lung cancer screenings at LVHN.org/lungscreening.