Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths, but getting diagnosed at the earliest stage significantly increases the likelihood of better outcomes. While early-stage diagnosis can be difficult, experts at Capital Health’s Lung Center of Excellence, part of Capital Health Cancer Center, now perform a minimally invasive procedure that uses the latest in robotic-assisted lung biopsy technology to detect and remove cancerous nodules in the same visit. Capital Health is the first hospital in Mercer County to offer this procedure.
Dr. Diana Kolman, director of Interventional Pulmonology at Capital Health, is trained to use the minimally invasive Ion endoluminal system to obtain tissue samples that facilitate a fast and accurate early-stage lung cancer diagnosis. Ion is an advanced robotic-assisted platform that has greater flexibility and reach than previous systems, which allows physicians to navigate all parts of the lungs, including peripheral areas that were previously unreachable from this approach. Immediately after Dr. Kolman retrieves a tissue sample, a pathologist reviews the sample to determine if it is cancerous. If cancer is diagnosed, Dr. Africa Wallace, director of Thoracic Surgery at Capital Health, then performs a minimally invasive surgical lobectomy to remove the nodule, all while the patient is still under anesthesia. This eliminates the need to schedule a separate procedure to remove the nodule at a later date.
“When a suspicious small mass or nodule is found on a patient’s lungs, referring physicians may recommend a lung biopsy to collect and analyze a lung tissue sample,” said Dr. Kolman. “With previous technology, our reach into the peripheral areas of the lungs was limited, but the Ion system can be precisely placed to obtain a biopsy in all 18 sections of the lungs. This greatly improves our ability to detect lung cancer in its earliest stages when it is most treatable.”
“Until very recently, patients had to schedule lung biopsies and surgical resections separately,” said Dr. Wallace. “For appropriate patients, the single-anesthesia approach we’re now offering at our Lung Center allows diagnosis and treatment to occur in one visit. In patients where a cancerous nodule is detected during biopsy, they can wake up after our combined efforts and be told that the nodule has already been removed from the lung instead of having to come back at a later date to go through another procedure.”
Capital Health Cancer Center, located at Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell, is home to the Lung Center of Excellence as well as other centers of excellence specializing in breast care, liver health, neuro-oncology, pancreatic health, and robotic-assisted surgery. To learn more, visit capitalhealthcancer.org. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kolman, call 609.815.7390. For an appointment with Dr. Wallace, call 609.537.6000.