Baptist Health Offers New Minimally Invasive Technology to Aid in Earlier Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Each year more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers combined. And according to the American Cancer Society, Arkansas will have an estimated 2,660 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in 2014 resulting in 2,200 deaths.

With November being national Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Baptist Health wants Arkansans to understand that the earlier lung cancer is diagnosis the better the odds are for surviving. Early stage lung cancer that is detected, diagnosed and immediately treated has survival rates up to 88 percent compared to the current 15 percent for late stage lung cancer patients.

In addition, Baptist Health is now offering a new minimally invasive procedure that will aid with earlier diagnosis for patients with lung lesions (spots that appear on CT Scans that may indicate cancer). This allows patients who turn out to have cancer to get treatment as soon as possible and those with benign conditions to hopefully avoid surgery.

Finding a spot on your lung is scary, but if found while the spot is still small is extremely beneficial, explained Dr. Jason Holder, a pulmonologist with Pulmonary Associates, P.A, in Little Rock.

Research shows that most small lung spots turn out not to be cancer and could be an infection or scar tissue from a previous infection. However, physicians must take a tissue sample or biopsy in order to make an accurate diagnosis.

Even with today’s advances, many physicians still rely on traditional methods that can be limiting or assume greater risk to the patient. Traditional bronchoscopy is only effective in the upper portion of the lungs and areas close to main airways, while needle biopsies can cause a collapsed lung. Some patients even have to undergo traditional open surgery – which requires a large incision, broken ribs and a long recovery time – just to find out if the lesion is cancerous or not.

With the new Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy™ (ENB) procedures, which are performed with a device known as the superDimension™ navigation system with LungGPS™ technology, physicians can navigate and access difficult-to-reach areas of the lung from the inside.

“The superDimension navigation system, with GPS-like technology, is a significant advancement for aiding in the diagnosis of lung cancer and overcomes limitations of traditional diagnostic approaches,” said Holder. “By guiding us through the complicated web of pathways inside the lungs, we’re able to access and sample target tissue throughout the entire lung without surgery or a needle biopsy. This technology can aid with earlier diagnoses which may allow for less invasive treatments for patients with lung cancer.”

With the superDimension system, the CT scan images are used to create a roadmap of the thousands of tiny pathways inside the lungs. The LungGPS™ technology then provides a roadmap that allows physicians to guide tiny tools through the lung pathways so they can take tissue samples of the lesion and place markers. This technology prevents patients from undergoing multiple procedures.

Baptist Health is the state’s most comprehensive healthcare system with more than 175 points of access, including eight hospitals. For more information about Baptist Health, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST.