Heart scan special detects cancer early in Naperville man

April 21, 2016 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

It all began with a $75 heart scan. Mark Zdenovec, 41, a Darien native and Naperville resident, had no idea when he went to have his heart tested—after a business associate recommended it—that the path of his life would change.

"I was trying to be proactive," Zdenovec said. “For $75, I thought it would be worth it.”

During the heart scan, everything seemed to go fine, Zdenovec said. He was told the radiologist was going to review it to verify everything looked okay and they would go from there.

Two weeks later, he received a call with news he did—and did not—want to hear. His heart checked out great, but Zdenovec ‘s doctor saw something in the scan regarding his thyroid. The doctor recommended he see an endocrinologist.

A visit to an endocrinologist confirmed that the ultrasound of Zdenovec’s carotid artery revealed papillary cancer in the left side of his thyroid.

"I was nervous and had a whole range of emotions." Zdenovec said. Although Zdenovec had a family history of cancer, he had no symptoms. If it wasn’t for the heart scan, he would have never known.

Zdenovec’s doctor, Dr.  Gregory Trevino, an internist with DuPage Medical Group said, “Mark did the right thing by being proactive and coming to Edward Hospital to have his heart checked. Luckily, timing was on his side and we were able to discover his cancer early.”

After receiving his biopsy results in November 2015, Zdenovec underwent surgery two weeks later to remove the cancer.  Zdenovec received news that the cancer had spread to more lymph nodes, and he went on to complete a course of radiation.

“If I didn’t have a heart scan, the cancer would have continued to spread without me knowing it. For $75, the heart scan changed my whole life ... hopefully for the better,” Zdenovec says.

Patient update: Mark has recently finished treatment. His doctors are confident the cancer was found early and are hopeful he will have a full recovery.   

Are you at risk for heart & vascular disease? Take the HeartAware Risk Assessment to find out.

Learn more about cancer services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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