Texas Health Harris Methodist in Fort Worth has become the first hospital in North Texas to use a robotic-assisted technology called Ion to biopsy potential tumors earlier than traditional diagnostic tests allow.
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women, but the survival rate is often low. The disease has often reached the advanced stage by the time noticeable symptoms appear, so early diagnosis is crucial.
The Ion robot uses a pre-planned navigation path to help guide an ultra-thin catheter to a lesion, a round or oval-shaped growth in the lung that appears on a CT scan.
Dr. John Burk, a pulmonologist with Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, said Ion has “changed the whole concept of how and when we can diagnose lung cancer.”
How Doctors Usually Access Hard-To-Reach Areas
Well, there are areas that simply the only way you're going to get there is surgery to take out that part of the lung. And there are times when you don't know what it is that you may be taking out — a benign lesion or an area of inflammation or infection for which there would be treatment, not requiring surgery.
Now that we recognize smaller lesions and their significance as potential cancers, we simply monitor or follow them over time. And if they are getting bigger, then it becomes more important to try to know what it is and do something about it.
Survival Rates For Lung Cancer
If we take all lung cancers in general, the five-year survival rate is around 19%. If you take stage one cancer — small cancer, the size of a nickel — then cure rates can be 90%, a huge difference.
When Symptoms Appear
Coughing up blood, chest pain, worsening shortness of breath are typical symptoms. When those occur, you're dealing with an advanced cancer most of the time. There is treatment, but it is not likely to be curative treatment.
Who’s At High Risk For Lung Cancer
Studies have now been done that say if you've got a smoking history of 30 pack years — a pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years — then you may be at increased risk. The age has been 55 to 75.
CT Scan Screening For Lung Cancer
It’s quick, inexpensive and covered by most insurance. They’ve been able to reduce the radiation exposure almost to the same as a chest X-ray. So it is safe to do every year or two for patients at high risk.
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