Pioneering Early Cancer Detection

A first-of-its-kind clinic in central Illinois guides patients through the fight against cancer.

by Alyson McKean, UnityPoint Health
Michelle Armbruster, director of the ​Morrison and Mary Wiley Library in Elmwood.
Michelle Armbruster, director of the ​Morrison and Mary Wiley Library in Elmwood.

Some types of news we hope we’ll never receive. A possible cancer diagnosis is one of them. Cancer touches many of us, whether personally or through the diagnosis of a family member or friend. To help in this fight, UnityPoint Health is pioneering early cancer detection through its Suspicion of Cancer Clinic, in collaboration with Illinois CancerCare. Through this partnership, cancer experts can quickly and efficiently guide people through the clinical evaluation process and alleviate some of the stress and confusion.

Every Minute Counts
When Michelle Armbruster started having pain in her neck, she went to her primary care physician for testing. Cancer runs in Armbruster’s family, and she was greatly concerned about her own health. After the results revealed nodules on her thyroid, she began searching for a provider to perform the biopsy. As she began to lose her voice and the pain continued, she ran into a friend who told her about UnityPoint Health’s Suspicion of Cancer Clinic and advised her to call. A few days later, she had an appointment to see Dr. Shawn Seibert of Illinois CancerCare. 

Dr. Seibert is a provider at the Suspicion of Cancer Clinic, where people from across central Illinois are referred when imaging results show potential abnormalities which need extra attention. Many patients of the clinic have had a suspicious finding for lung, liver or pancreatic cancers. “Dr. Seibert got me in very quickly and took care of everything,” Armbruster says. “He scheduled me for tests and a CAT scan for my throat and chest. Dr. Seibert personally called me to keep me in the loop of all my test results, and he coordinated all my care with my endocrinologist and primary care provider.”

“Every minute counts to help patients receive the treatment they need. Delays in treatment can impact survival rate, specifically with certain lung cancers,” says Anne Bowman, Director of Oncology at UnityPoint Health. “Dr. Seibert coordinates all the medical needs of each patient. We also have a team dedicated to monitoring the status of each patient’s care plan to ensure they receive the right care in a timely manner.” 

Getting the Answers You Need
Armbruster was thrilled to learn she was cancer-free. “I’m so thankful I ran into my friend and found the Suspicion of Cancer Clinic,” she says. “It’s a wonderful place for people who need answers fast when you want to know if you have cancer or not. They listened, understood my concerns, and knew it was so frustrating for me to get tests done. They jumped into action, saying, ‘Okay, this is what we need to do—here’s our plan,’ and just got it started.”

In addition to medical support, the clinic is staffed by an oncology psychosocial services specialist who provides social and psychological support for patients including counseling, transportation assistance, groceries, finances and other needs. With a possible cancer diagnosis, we need to focus not just on the body, but the soul. 

Although no one wants to face cancer, patients can count on UnityPoint Health to be here for them. Through our comprehensive programs and collaboration with expert cancer physicians of Illinois CancerCare, we’re leveraging some of the most advanced medical treatments available to help people fight this disease. During a patient’s cancer battle, we’re focused on guiding them along the way, hopefully making this challenging experience a little more bearable. PM

If you or a loved one are interested in the UnityPoint Health – Suspicion of Cancer Clinic, speak with your primary care provider or specialist about a referral, or call (309) 671-7772.