Interventional pulmonologists at The Ohio State University Medical Center are using an improved and more efficient technique to diagnose lung cancer. Attached at the tip of the bronchoscope, an ultrasound probe identifies the location of the cancerous masses in a patient's chest, allowing for an accurate biopsy, or tissue sample, under ultrasound guidance.
Traditionally, chest biopsies were obtained through a small incision in the neck. This technique also required an operating room and general anesthesia. In addition, pulmonologists could also obtain a diagnosis using a biopsy needle through a bronchoscope. However, there was no real-time guidance and the site of the tumor would be determined after reviewing a patient's x-ray or other diagnostic scan.
"Studies have shown that accurate staging, along with diagnosis of lung cancer, can be done without any surgical procedures," says Dr. Shaheen Islam, an interventional pulmonologist and critical care specialist at Ohio State's Medical Center.
"Some lung cancer patients also have emphysema from smoking, which does not make them very good surgical candidates," adds Islam. "Using this new technique allows patients for an accurate staging through an outpatient procedure with minimal, conscious sedation, so that appropriate treatment can be offered."
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, killing over 160,000 people yearly. Approximately 213,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, and 85% of those diagnosed with the disease will die within the first 5 years of diagnosis.