The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

Are you or were you a smoker? We have advanced lung cancer testing 

Are you or were you a smoker? We have advanced lung cancer testing

Men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer, largely due to smoking, which accounts for up to 90% of lung cancer cases, according to the National Institutes of Health. 

The good news is that we have a new tool called Ion Bronchoscopy, a robotic-assisted, minimally invasive procedure that uses advanced technology to reach and test suspicious areas for lung cancer. 

"The smaller the cancer at the time of diagnosis, the better the five-year survival rate is," says Dr. Shubhra Ray, one of the WellSpan pulmonologists who uses the Ion tool. "Early detection dramatically improves survival." 

How does this type of lung cancer screening work? 

In patients who have an elevated risk of lung cancer, low-dose CT scanning may be used to identify lung nodules, abnormal growths that form in the lung, at an early stage. Patients whose CT scans show suspicious nodules then may be candidates for bronchoscopy. 

Bronchoscopy is a procedure that examines your lungs and air passages. A physician passes a thin tube, called a bronchoscope, through your nose or mouth, down your throat and into your lungs. The procedure allows doctors to reach any suspicious lung nodules and test them to see if they are cancerous. 

Ion Bronchoscopy is an advanced form of this screening. It features a very thin, maneuverable, camera-equipped catheter, allowing doctors to have better access to the smaller airways in the lung. This is important because 70% of cancerous nodules are in hard-to-reach areas of the lungs. 

What kind of patients should be screened for lung cancer? 

The guidelines indicate that individuals who are 50 to 80 years old with a 20-pack per year history of smoking, who are a current smoker, or who have quit smoking within the past 15 years, are eligible for a lung cancer screening. More than 14 million Americans meet these guidelines yet just under 6% have been screened, according to the American Lung Association.  

What can you expect from this screening? 

On the day of the procedure, you will receive general anesthesia during the Ion Bronchoscopy. 

Your physician will use a controller to move the thin tube in precise ways during the procedure, by following a 3D map of your lung shown on a computer screen. The system also has built-in flexibility to adjust as you breathe. 

The physician can scan and biopsy nodules by extracting a tissue sample as small as 1 centimeter, which immediately can be evaluated by a pathologist for cancer cells and staging. 

Take an assessment to learn your lung cancer risk by going here.