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Paris Physician on Cutting Edge

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http://web.theparisnews.com/story.lasso ... 3&page=all

Published August 5, 2007

A doctoral dissertation more than 30 years ago propelled a Paris-based physician into a lifetime battle against the most deadly of all cancers — lung cancer.

Dr. Ted McLemore, long-time Paris interventional pulmonologist, says years of research coupled with modern technology is making a break-through in early diagnosis, surveillance and treatment of the disease that affects 170,000 Americans each year.

McLemore and a team of other local physicians are on the cutting edge of advanced procedures the physician says will save people’s lives from a disease that in the past has been hard to diagnose and hard to treat.

“I can see us really making an impact on the treatment of not only lung cancer but other pulmonary diseases we have really had no ability to effectively treat in the past,” McLemore said from his office Friday.

Tears came to his eyes as he spoke about the progress made since he wrote the thesis on the effects of cigarette smoking on human lungs with an emphasis on pulmonary carcentigens, the chemicals in cigarette smoke that cause cancer.

“Technology is really revolutionizing lung cancer diagnosis and treatment,” McLemore said as he talked about electromagnetic guided bronchoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound, radiotherapy monitoring devices, high dose iridium brachytherapy, airway stenting, electrocautery and bronchial thermoplasty, all cutting edge technologies.

The physician returned last week from directing an advanced diagnostic and therapeutic interventional pulmonology conference at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Dallas at Las Colinas.

McLemore, recently named director of Interven-tional Pulmonology and professor of medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, directed the three-day seminar that drew 45 pulmonary specialists and thoracic surgeons from around the world.

“It was the most exciting thing I have done,” McLemore said. “I’ve spent the last 30 years, you know, in lung cancer trying to do something to help people and in my opinion this is the best.”

McLemore has been asked by UT-Tyler to direct the conference again next year.

“UT-Tyler plans to make it a yearly event so that we can share the latest research and technology developments,” McLemore said.

The physician spoke of teaming with his partner, Dr. Ajay Bedekar, and Paris specialists Dr. J. Michael Kerley, radiation oncologist at Paris Regional Cancer Center and his associates, as well as pathologist Dr. Stephen Walters.

“Dr. Kerley is one of the top radiation oncology doctors in the world, and he is in Paris just because he wants to be,” McLemore said.

The specialist said he recently recruited Dr. Gordon Downey, an interventional pulmonologist from North Carolina, to assist him at interventional centers in Paris, Mount Pleasant and in Tyler.

“Most people in the area don’t realize it, but our group is probably the most complete interventional pulmonology program of any place in the country,” McLemore said. “Between the three places (Paris, Mount Pleasant and Tyler) we do more interventional pulmonology than any place, really, in the U.S.”

McLemore brought the first Super Dimension/Broncus system in Texas to Paris in February 2006. The advanced imaging device allows physicians to detect and treat cancers deep in the lungs.

The physician also was first in Texas to do endobronchial ultrasound for the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer and other pulmonology diseases.

“We did our first case in November 2005 at Paris Regional,” McLemore said. “I have done more than 600 cases since then.”

Originally from Glen Rose, McLemore received his PhD in molecular biology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center along with a Doctor of Medicine degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston in 1981.

“Once I did the work with lung cancer, I knew I wanted to go into pulmonary medicine,” McLemore said.

From M.D. Anderson, the young physician spent several years under the tutelage of Dr. Kopeng Wang and Dr. Jim Britt at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland.

“They were considered pioneers in interventional pulmonology,” McLemore said.

Following his pulmonary fellowship program at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Cancer Institute recruited McLemore to develop a lung cancer research program.

Ailing relatives back home in Texas brought McLemore to Paris 17 years ago.

“My plan was to move down here for a year and move back, but we liked Paris so much we never moved back,” McLemore said.

“Since I’ve been in Paris we’ve stayed on the cutting edge of lung cancer diagnosis and treatment as well as interventional pulmonology for the treatment of other diseases such as emphysema, tracheobronchomalacia, asthma and other pulmonary diseases.

Although research and technology has advanced lung cancer diagnosis and treatment, McLemore said prevention is the best medicine.

“Smokers need to quit,” McLemore said. “Absolutely my recommendation to people is not to smoke and to preach to your children, your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren not to smoke.

“We know there is a cause and effect relationship between smoking and lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, kidney cancer, head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer and probably breast cancer also,” he said.

McLemore spoke of new medications to help people quit smoking.

“There is improvement in pharmacological research that is developing new smoking cessation drugs that are helping people quit smoking,” he emphasized.

For heavy smokers and past smokers, the specialist recommends a chest CT scan and an autoflorescence bronchoscopy once a year for early detection of the disease.

McLemore terms heavy smokers those with a 20-pack-year of smoking.

“If you smoke one pack a day for 20 years, that is a 20-pack year history,” he said. “If you smoke two packs for 10 years, that is a 20-pack history.

“What we know from research is if you smoke and have more than a 20-pack-year history, your risk of lung cancer increases,” he said. “If you quit smoking your risk never goes back to zero.”

McLemore estimated the cost of “a decent early detection” program at about $1,000 a year. Some insurance programs cover the costs while others may not.

“Lung cancer has been difficult to diagnose early because the lung has a tremendous reserve capacity,” McLemore said. “You can destroy a significant amount of your lung or have something growing in a large portion and you wouldn’t know it.”

Early detection, surveillance and interventional pulmonology treatments, McLemore said saves lives.

“It is an exciting field,” the specialist said. “We are moving into the 21st century with all this new technology and there is more on the horizon.

“Even if we can increase lung cancer five-year survival from 15 to say 25 percent, think how many individual lives we will save a year,” the physician said.

“It is an exciting time,” McLemore concluded.

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