Tenet hospitals are making major contributions in the early detection and diagnosis of lung cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that each year, more people die of lung cancer than from colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. When diagnosed early however, some patients with earlier stage cancers can be cured. More than 430,000 people alive today have been diagnosed with lung cancer at some point.
In an effort to help save more lives from this deadly form of cancer, St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, established the South Texas Lung Institute (STLI), which is in its fourth year. The STLI provides a multi-disciplinary collaboration of area physicians and healthcare resources and a navigated program for lung disease and lung cancer patients.
John Knox, president of St Luke’s, said Baptist Health System (BHS) was the first in 2014 to open this type of center in South Texas. “We are proud the STLI is thriving," said Knox. "With one phone call, high-risk patients are referred to a host of treatment resources."
The STLI also holds the city’s only multidisciplinary Thoracic Tumor Board every other week bringing together pulmonologists, oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, and primary care physicians who work collaboratively with St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital. Their goal is to provide highly coordinated lung cancer treatment for patients.
Last year, the STLI and BHS also created a unique and highly specialized Pulmonary Nodule Clinic to provide high-level care to patients who have suspicious pulmonary findings. Phillip Fortenberry, M.D., radiologist with Baptist M&S Imaging, said that the collaboration with M&S Imaging is designed to improve early detection of cancerous lung nodules while limiting unnecessary imaging by reducing the number of false-positive findings.
“We know through groundbreaking research from the National Lung Screening Trial that lung cancer screening with low-dose CT reduces lung cancer mortality by 20 percent in high-risk patients,” said Dr. Fortenberry. “M&S Imaging expertise helps our partners in the STLI coordinate patient care toward our collective goal of giving patients a better chance of a cure."
At North Central Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, physicians have begun offering a new technology developed to improve the early detection of lung cancer. The Veran SPiNView® technology uses electromagnetic navigation, which is similar to a car’s global positioning system (GPS). It is deployed during a CT scan of the patient’s lungs to automatically create a route to a suspicious lesion. This allows physicians to easily biopsy and place markers for planned treatment using a catheter inserted via the patient’s airway.
Aldo Ambrosio Parodi, M.D., pulmonary disease specialist at North Central Baptist, performed the first procedure on July 12 and is excited about the positive impact this new procedure will have on patients. “With this new technology, we can offer a more efficient way to find lung nodules at earlier stages, which is the key to improving patient outcomes,” said Dr. Parodi. “Using an electromagnetic navigational bronchoscope method allows the biopsy of lung nodules and masses for patients with hard-to-reach lesions in their lungs,” he said.
The SPiNView® system offers patients a minimally-invasive approach to navigate to lesions located deep in the lungs. The procedure requires no incision, avoids the need for higher-risk procedures to remove lung lesions, and as an added benefit, allows less radiation exposure for patients, physicians, and staff.
Dr. Parodi added that the early detection of lung cancer, while it is still localized, greatly affects survival rates for patients.
With early detection, there is a greater than 88 percent survival rate at 10 years and a higher than 90 percent survival rate with the immediate removal of the lesion. Before the recent development of electromagnetic navigation, only 16 percent of lung cancer patients were diagnosed at an early stage.