A Simple Screening Changes Everything

Patient Perspectives Patricia Fagliarone

January 14, 2019

Jackson woman registers for a preventive heart and vascular screening and finds out she has stage 3 cancer.

Patricia Fagliarone, 66, was experiencing some health issues, including high cholesterol. Her primary care physician, Christine Michael, D.O., of Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group, recommended she start taking cholesterol medication.

“In June 2017, before starting the new medication, I registered for an AngioScreen® at Hackensack Meridian Health Village in Jackson,” explains Patricia. “I wanted to be extra cautious and get my arteries checked to make sure my heart was in good shape.”

Around this same time, Patricia was feeling discomfort when swallowing. “I always felt like I had a lump or something caught in my throat” she recalls. Dr. Michael recommended Patricia see endocrinologist Niyati Chiniwala, M.D., at Jersey Shore University Medical Center to determine the cause of these symptoms, so Patricia made an appointment for August.

Startling Results

When Patricia went in for her AngioScreen, the ultrasound scan of the carotid arteries in her neck revealed an incidental finding of nodules on her thyroid. “When the screening was complete, the nurse educator pulled me aside and strongly encouraged me to take the results back to my doctor,” Patricia recalls. “Considering my recent symptoms, I knew something was off, but it surprised me to hear that news during a heart and vascular screening.”

Course For Care

Patricia immediately scheduled an appointment for an ultrasound, where Dr. Chiniwala confirmed the presence of nodules and suggested she see Alexander Shifrin, M.D., director of The Center for Thyroid, Parathyroid and Adrenal Disease at Jersey Shore, for a biopsy.

Dr. Shifrin determined that Patricia had thyroid carcinoma. In November, surgery was scheduled to remove the tumor in her neck. “The most common symptom of thyroid cancer is a mass in the neck,” explains Dr. Shifrin. “Normally, the tumor is encapsulated, or contained, but Patricia’s was more complex. She had stage 3 thyroid cancer, which was invasive and not contained.”

Patricia’s surgery was successful. She had radioiodine therapy, a treatment used to destroy any remaining thyroid cells and/or to treat certain thyroid cancers that may have spread. She also follows up with Dr. Chiniwala with labs, an ultrasound every six months and an annual whole body scan to make sure the cancer hasn’t spread further and to check for any recurrence. “I am starting to feel better and get my energy back,” says Patricia. “This screening saved my life. I’m so glad that I listened to my body and myself and was proactive in getting checked out.”

AngioScreen is a comprehensive heart and vascular screening from Hackensack Meridian Health. In just 15 minutes, this simple, noninvasive evaluation will help identify your risk for heart disease and stroke so you can take charge and lead a heart-healthy life. Register at HackensackMeridianHealth.org/AngioScreen. 

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