Maury Regional physician helps region detect lung cancer earlier


COLUMBIA, Tenn. — It’s no secret that the primary key to successfully treating lung cancer is to find it in its earliest stages, and a pulmonology specialist with Maury Regional Health has made early diagnosis his mission. He’s now sharing his highly successful program with other physicians in the region.

Jon L. Freels, MD, FCCP, a specialist in pulmonology and critical care medicine at Maury Regional Medical Group Pulmonary & Critical Care, has developed a program utilizing the ILLUMISITETM Platform by Medtronic that has proven to be highly efficient and accurate in sampling suspicious lung nodules. He’s hosting physicians from the region to observe his protocols and utilization of the platform so they can better serve their patients.

“This innovative technology helps provide our patients with the highest quality patient care,” Dr. Freels said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to share our program with physicians in our region so we can have a positive impact on more lung cancer patients.”

The ILLUMISITETM Platform acts much like a GPS to guide physicians through a patient’s lungs. A physician uses a patient’s computed tomography (CT) scan to create a virtual pathway to a suspicious nodule and navigates the pathway with a bronchoscope and navigation catheter, a minimally invasive procedure called electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy, commonly referred to as ENB.

Once the physician reaches the suspicious nodule, specialized biopsy tools obtain tissue from the nodule. The tissue is analyzed to determine the diagnosis and stage of cancer.

What makes the ILLUMISITETM Platform unique is its ability to visually enhance and reach the smallest lung nodules. It also allows physicians to sample tissue in multiple areas of nodules.1

“Early diagnosis can increase our chance of successfully treating lung cancer by up to 94%2,” Dr. Freels said. “With this technology, we are able to identify the smallest nodules in their earliest stages and take samples of those tissues. We currently have a 92% diagnostic yield on the first biopsy, meaning we are establishing a diagnosis on the first biopsy 92% of the time.”

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States and the leading cause of death from cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The reason it’s so deadly is oftentimes symptoms don’t show until the cancer has progressed, making early lung screenings vital in treatment.

Maury Regional Health offers low-dose CT lung screenings at Maury Regional Medical Center, Marshall Medical Center, Wayne Medical Center and Spring Hill Imaging Center. To qualify for a low-dose CT lung screening, patients must meet the following criteria:

  • Be 50-77 years of age
  • Have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer
  • Have a tobacco smoking history of at least 20 pack-years (one pack-year equals smoking one pack per day for one year; one pack equals 20 cigarettes)
  • Be a current smoker or one who has quit within the last 15 years
  • Receive a written order from your primary care provider

For those who don’t meet the criteria, a self-pay CT screening of the chest and lung area is available without a physician’s order at Maury Regional Health’s outpatient imaging locations.

Other common cancer screenings include those for breast, cervical, colorectal, prostate, skin and testicular cancer. For those who have been diagnosed with cancer, the Maury Regional Cancer Center offers comprehensive treatment from a multidisciplinary team of physicians and clinical staff who are committed to providing state-of-the-art care.

To learn more about cancer screenings at MRH, visit

1. Pritchett MA, Bhadra K, Mattingley JS. Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy With Tomosynthesis-based Visualization and Positional Correction: Three-dimensional Accuracy as Confirmed by Cone-Beam Computed Tomography. J Bronchology Interv Pulmonol. 2020;DOI 10.1097/LBR.0000000000000687.
2. Henschke CI, Yankelevitz DF, Libby DM, Pasmantier MW, Smith JP, Miettinen OS. Survival of patients with stage I lung cancer detected on CT screening. N Engl J Med. 2006;355(17):1763-1771.

Dr. Jon Freels headshot







Jon L. Freels, MD, FCCP, is a specialist in pulmonology and critical care medicine at Maury Regional Medical Group Pulmonary & Critical Care.

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