New Technology Hopes To Improve Lung Cancer Detection, Treatment In Charlotte County – Wink News

CHARLOTTE COUNTY

Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer deaths, making up almost 25% of fatal cases in the U.S. annually.

Breakthrough technology has been launched in Southwest Florida that could change the course of detection and treatment, saving lives in the process.

Lung cancer has few symptoms, which is why most of the time, doctors don’t diagnose patients until the disease is in its late stages. That’s when the five-year survival rate is a scary 3-8%.

Thoracic Surgeon Doctor Nikalesh Reddy with ShorePoint Health said early detection of lung cancer is a lifesaver.

“If you can catch them early, and you can now give them a good surgical oncological resection, they would have a very good survival,” said Reddy.

That’s where the Ion comes in. This new device is now up and running at the ShorePoint Medical Center in Port Charlotte, and it’s the only one in Southwest Florida.

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Ion lung biopsy machine in Charlotte County. (Credit: WINK News)

The doctor-controlled robot navigates the intricate lung pathways. Using the patient’s CT scan as a road map, it snakes an ultra-thin catheter to biopsy suspicious areas.

Visualization is critical here. The device delivers a tiny camera into the lung, lit with fiber optics. The camera is roughly two millimeters in diameter and provides high-definition pictures.

A needle takes the camera’s place when the flexible probe gets to the right spot. Doctors perform a biopsy in a procedure that may last only 20 minutes.

“We have an option to even biopsy a one-centimeter nodule and smaller sub-centimeter with nodules that may be way out in the periphery of the lung, which traditionally, people tend to watch them rather than aggressively go after them,” Reddy said.

Traditionally, most lung cancers start as a spot on an x-ray that doctors “watch” because biopsies, before the Ion, involve major surgery.

More than 70% of cancerous nodules are found in the outer third of the lung, so being able to biopsy in a low-impact way will lead to earlier detection.

“We could potentially just do like almost like a colonoscopy. Nowadays that we do for detecting polyps, you can do the same thing for lung,” said Reddy.

The program’s goal is to one day biopsy, diagnose and surgically remove cancer during the same procedure, saving time and saving lives.

Because lung cancer has few symptoms in its early stages, long-time, heavy smokers are eligible for a low-dose CT scan to look for suspicious areas and would greatly benefit from this new technology.