Taking the air out of lung cancer

Lung cancer is the most common fatal cancer in both women and men — and is the second-most-frequent cancer in both genders. Breast cancer is more common in women and prostate cancer is more common in men, but not as fatal.

But new technology at Baylor Scott & White Health in Plano is a significant advancement for patients and the medical community.

Dr. Omar Awad, M.D., FCCP, a pulmonary physician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center -Plano says lung disease can be silent, often presenting after it has advanced to stages 3 or 4. A new device utilized by Baylor Scott & White  — a robotic-assisted minimally invasive biopsy platform — allows doctors on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White to more precisely identify lung cancer while conducting a bronchoscopy (biopsy) by diagnosing smaller nodules earlier, ones that could not be reached with pre-robotic methods.

Before this robot technology was available, inaccessible nodules were monitored by imaging instead of a minimally invasive biopsy. If a nodule was suspicious and accessible on the outside of a lung, a physician would insert a needle manually to take a biopsy from the outside of the body creating risk for lung collapse, or by surgically removing the nodule which is known as “wedge biopsy” but results in taking a large portion of healthy lung tissue along with it for a nodule that might be benign after all. 

This robotic technology helps precisely target cancer nodules, allowing doctors to better protect the healthy lung tissue. These robotic bronchoscopies improve accessibility to nodules found on CT scans and allow for a minimally invasive biopsy which more accurately identifies which are cancerous and which are benign.

Utilizing the robot, a physician sends a bronchoscopy camera down the airway, providing a detailed map of the passage. Physicians can then go deeper and farther into the lung. The robot arm adds significant stability to the scope’s location and proximity to a deep nodule.

“We have emerging technologies to help us further diagnose sooner and thereby implement treatment sooner,” Dr. Awad says.

Robotic navigation technology arrived on the scene just as COVID-19 hit, Dr. Awad says, so implementation was delayed. Now that it’s here, the beauty of the technology is that it produces a detailed map of the airways for precise procedural manipulation, compared to previous methods, which depended on a human physician to move the catheter with unintended movement.

Dr. Awad says the medical community suggests screening for lung cancer for people with the following risk factors:

  • Between ages 50 and 80
  • Have a 20-pack-per-year smoking history
  • Currently smoke or have quit smoking within the last 15 years
  • Have no symptoms

The rate at which lung cancer accelerates varies, but Dr. Awad says early detection is key in treatment success rates.

Find out more about Baylor Scott & White Plano’s advancements in lung cancer treatment today. BSWHealth.com/PlanoCancer

Physicians provide clinical services as members of the medical staff at one of Baylor Scott & White Health’s subsidiary, community or affiliated medical centers and do not provide clinical services as employees or agents of Baylor Scott & White Health or those medical centers.

Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Plano
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