Community Health Improvement Services

Free Lung Screening Program Spots Early Stage Thyroid Cancer for Watchung Resident

Don Pannacciulli

When Don Pannacciulli’s friend urged him to have a free lung cancer screening at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Don resisted. After all, he quit smoking in 1998 and he felt great. But his wife, Karen, insisted, so the 66-year-old Watchung resident and 9/11 survivor, went to the screening.

A few days later, he received a call from the doctor, who wanted to see him right away. There was good news
— his lungs were clear. But there was something else — the CT Scan showed a 1.8 cm mass on his thyroid.

The mass, as it turned out, was an early stage cancer.

The Saint Barnabas Lung Cancer Screening Program is just one of many free screenings offered throughout the health system. This one is designed to find lung cancer early — typically, lung cancer is not diagnosed until the later stages so early screening can be a matter of life and death. The additional benefit is that screenings may also identify unexpected problems like Don’s thyroid cancer.

“The free lung screening program saved my life – I am lucky the cancer was caught early,” says Don. “I am on a mission to encourage others to get screened. If the test is negative, you have peace of mind, but if it is positive, you are able to catch and treat the disease earlier.”

Saint Barnabas Medical Center - Livingston
Since 1865, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, New Jersey’s oldest non-profit, non-sectarian hospital, has worked to exceed its community’s highest expectations for compassionate, comprehensive health care. This award-winning, 597-bed institution is one of the largest health care providers in the state. Saint Barnabas Medical Center is a major teaching affiliate of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, The New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and St. Georges University School of Medicine, Grenada. Saint Barnabas is also a clinical site for both of New Jersey’s physician assistant training schools.

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