Advanced lung cancer technologies in Northwest Indiana

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Methodist Hospitals continues to lead the way in Northwest Indiana with the addition of the area’s first Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB) and the area’s most advanced Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS).

A breakthrough in diagnosis and treatment, the ENB enables the physician to navigate through areas that were unreachable with traditional bronchoscopy. It relies on a technology similar to GPS to guide a scope through a patient’s small airways passages to reach lung nodules. During this minimally invasive procedure, the physician can evaluate the lungs and take tissue samples.

“There are small nodules in the distal areas of the bronchia that you can’t reach with a bronchoscope. In the past, we sent patients to a thoracic surgeon to surgically remove them. Now we can use the GPS system and go after them,” said Olusegun Apata, MD, a pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine specialist. “The procedure reduces the risk of puncturing the lung and other complications.”

Hakam Safadi, director of respiratory and critical care, said “Once we locate the lesion, we can perform a biopsy. If the lesion will need to be surgically removed, we can tattoo it with ink during this procedure, making it much faster and easier for the surgeon to identify.”

Dr. Safadi added that there is “a high incidence of lung cancer in this area, which is the No. 1 killer among all cancers. The earlier you detect it, the better the survival rate and the better it is for the patient.”

ENB may also be used to place a marker for radiation therapy.

According to pulmonologist Sharon Harig, MD, the ENB is ideal for those cases in which just a small area needs radiation.

“Now the radiation oncologist can more easily confine treatment without affecting the lung tissue outside of that specific area,” Dr. Harig said.

Quicker diagnosis

Lung cancer is typically diagnosed after it has spread, but surgeons at Methodist are now able to assess lymph nodes earlier using the Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS).

“The EBUS allows us to make more rapid diagnosis, less invasively. The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the prognosis. A lot of other conditions can affect the lymph nodes, and in the Midwest there is a lot of exposure to fungus. If we can prove it’s a fungus and not cancer, that certainly brings a large measure of relief to the patient and obviously shifts our treatment focus,” explained Charles Rebesco, MD, a pulmonologist.

“ENB and EBUS technologies represent a meaningful advance for patients in this area.”

Low-dose CT lung cancer screening

Early detection is a proven, successful strategy for fighting many forms of cancer, including lung cancer.

The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) found that low-dose screening helped reduce mortality by 20 percent for those at high risk of developing lung cancer.

Those at high risk include current 30+ pack-a-year smokers, ages 55 to 74; former 30+ pack-a-year smokers, ages 55 to 74 who quit within the last 15 years; as well as adults age 50 or older who are 20+ pack-a-year smokers with COPD or pulmonary fibrosis, Radon exposure, occupational exposures, a personal history of cancer or a family history of lung cancer.

Methodist Hospitals now offers low-dose CT screening for those at high risk for lung cancer for only $99. More information is at (219) 757-7212.

Provided by Methodist Hospitals