Imagine sitting in your doctor's office, waiting for the results of recent imaging studies.
If your doctor sees a shadow on your lungs, you should know that many lung tumors are not cancerous. And that great strides have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. The key is getting an early diagnoses, so treatment can begin as early as possible when cancer is easier to treat.
Diagnosing cancer early with robotic bronchoscopy
Thanks to an increase in lung cancer screening, suspicious lung nodules are being found on CT scans in patients who don't have any symptoms. Lung nodules can also be found on a cardiac CT scan.
"The majority of these nodules fall in the outer third of the lung, which is very hard to reach with traditional bronchoscopy," says Jacqueline Sutter, DO, Main Line Health interventional pulmonologist. "But now, with robotic-assisted navigational bronchoscopy, we can reach these nodules—even if they're extremely small—biopsy them and map and tag them for future treatment. It's a very safe, low-risk procedure that results in definitive answers and a precise treatment plan."
Robotic bronchoscopy is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia. If the nodule turns out to be cancerous, in many cases the thoracic surgeon can then use minimally invasive surgery to remove the cancerous tissue during the same operation.
"In addition to being easier on the patient, this technology provides remarkably accurate information that enables us to precisely plan and perform the procedure. We're one of the first in the country to have the newest model, which integrates multiple modes of information—virtual mapping (think GPS), live ultrasound imaging and three-dimensional CT scanning—into one system. Without this degree of accuracy, we wouldn't be able to find these nodules. This is a game changer when it comes to diagnosing and treating lung cancer," says Dr. Sutter.
Faster diagnosis for peace of mind and quicker treatment
This technology also provides peace of mind for people whose nodules are not cancerous.
"Years ago, a patient often had to wait months until a nodule grew large enough for diagnostic imaging or would undergo surgery, perhaps unnecessarily. Having definitive answers early relieves a lot of angst for patients," says Dr. Sutter.
"Early lung cancer detection and cure offers huge survival benefits to patients," she adds. "Although the incidence of lung cancer is going down in men, that isn't the case for women, especially women of color and nonsmoking women. Having a way to follow up on abnormal findings on a CT scan is very important, especially since they may not be considered high risk for lung cancer."
More than cancer care. Human care.
Main Line Health has the most advanced technology available for diagnosing and treating lung cancer early, when it's most curable.