Health Team

Less-invasive biopsy option available to check for lung cancer

Posted February 1, 2012

— Two years ago, Brenda Smith had a CT scan, which revealed something unusual in her chest. Further tests at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital revealed growth on her lungs.

Scans can find suspicious areas where cancer may be present, but a biopsy is needed to check the nodes for cancer and determine how far it has spread, FirstHealth pulmonologist Dr. Michael Pritchett said.

A surgical approach requires general anesthesia and hospitalization, but an endoscopic bronchial ultrasound uses only mild sedation, the same used for colonoscopies.

"A less-invasive fashion is much safer for them, and it's more accurate," Pritchett said.

The endoscopic bronchial ultrasound is also a better approach than surgery because it can reach more lymph nodes deeper in the chest, he said. Another endoscopic procedure goes down the esophagus to biopsy lymph nodes further down the chest. Often, the two procedures can be done in the same visit.

In the same operating room, a team can take the lymph node tissue and determine if it's cancerous.

The results were a big relief for Smith, who was diagnosed with the lung disease sarcoidosis. She had no symptoms, and Pritchett recommended only annual exams.

The endobronchial ultrasound equipment was made and purchased by the Foundation of FirstHealth.

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  • engdahljohnson Feb 2, 2012

    Healthcare Town Hall ยป Actuarial study anticipates, supports recent findings on lung cancer screening.