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Health Spotlight: One-two punch to detect and wipe out lung cancer

Health Spotlight: One-two punch to detect and wipe out lung cancer

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. 1-in-5 to be exact.

Catching it early is key, but in the past, only 20 – 30% of lung cancers were found at stage one or two.
Now, doctors have a new tool to help them to find and diagnose it earlier than ever before.

After bouts of chest pain that worsened over time, an x-ray revealed a nodule in Dr. Kim Nguyen’s lung. Differentiating between a benign nodule and a malignant tumor can be difficult and dangerous.

“So, the old fashioned style (of detection) with the transthoracic needles aspiration involved a higher level of risk of lung collapse, about 25% of those patients, meaning 1-in-4patients, will have a collapsed lung,” Dr. Alejandro Sardi, an interventional pulmonologist at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, said.

But there’s a new way to diagnose and treat patients safer and quicker. First, the Cios Spin is a portable CT scanner used to pinpoint the tumor.

“When we’re passing the needles and passing the probes to get to the nodules or get to the lung cancers, we can take a CT scan right then and we can see exactly to make sure that we’re putting that needle exactly where it belongs in order to get a diagnosis,” Dr. Manu Sancheti, a thoracic surgeon at Emory, said.

Second, the ion robotic bronchoscopy uses a camera-equipped catheter to give surgeons a 180-degree view in any direction in the lungs.

“The patient goes to sleep with a nodule of unknown origin or unknown diagnosis, we bring the ion into the operating room, we biopsy it, we diagnose it. If it does come as cancer while they’re still asleep, we go ahead and do the robotic surgery and remove the cancer,” Sancheti added.

As for Nguyen, she was grateful to find out quickly that her tumor was not cancerous. “If I had wings, I would fly,” she said.

With the one-two combination, doctors are reaching over 85% accuracy in diagnosing tumors less than one centimeter and 90% accuracy in those greater than two centimeters.

The good news – the number of new lung cancer diagnoses continues to decrease. Experts believe this is because more people are quitting smoking, or not starting at all.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.