St. Vincent's Comprehensive Cancer Center is first with new Super D technology for lung cancer

New York 06 December 2005St. Vincent's Comprehensive Cancer Center (SVCCC) has added the new superDimension/Bronchus system for the diagnosis and biopsy of lung cancer. SVCCC is the first and only medical centre in New York to use the new technology, and is one of only a handful of hospitals throughout the United States with the "Super D" or superDimension/Bronchus system.

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Using the Super D system, physicians can pinpoint lung cancer more safely and in its early stages. During the same procedure, physicians can also biopsy the lymph nodes in the chest, staging the lung cancer without having to subject patients to surgery or risky needle biopsies.

The frightening statistics on lung cancer - about 6 out of 10 people with lung cancer die within one year of diagnosis - result from the challenges of diagnosing the disease at an early stage. By the time a patient receives a definitive diagnosis of lung cancer, it has often progressed to a late stage of the disease and survival rates drop significantly. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women.

Joseph Cicenia, MD, FCCP, the pulmonologist who spearheaded the effort to bring the superDimension to SVCCC, stated: "Not only do we have to find lung cancer early, but we must follow this with low risk diagnostic methods to give the patient a better chance at survival. Until now, there has been no clear diagnostic tool other than surgery and needle biopsy, both of which have the risk of adverse effects associated with them. The Super D is a tremendous advance in this area."

Up to now, physicians have had to rely on a combination of procedures to confirm lung cancer such as chest x-ray, CT scan, sputum analysis, needle biopsy, bronchoscopy and surgery. Often, the results are inconclusive; in some instances there are false negative results; and several of the diagnostic tests are invasive and potentially risky for the patient.

The new, minimally invasive Super D technology uses CT images and electromagnetic guidance to direct the physician through a patient's airways allowing for biopsy of smaller masses and masses located in regions of the lungs that were not reachable with the more traditional bronchoscopy procedures.

First, the patient has a high-resolution CT scan performed and the images are entered into the Super D software for pre-procedure planning. Within the next one to three days, the patient returns for their biopsy procedure. During the procedure, which is done under moderate intravenous sedation, the physician places a scope through the patient's nose or mouth into the patient's airways. The physician then maps the patient's lungs to the images in the system using electromagnetic guidance, essentially creating a virtual roadmap of the lungs. Once mapping is complete, the system serves as a guide to direct the physician virtually through the airways to the mass. A tissue sample is then taken through the same scope and sent to the on-site pathology lab for immediate review. This is done without damaging lung tissue or potentially puncturing a lung, typical risks of traditional biopsy.

This new technology also provides the ability to accurately stage lung cancer at the same sitting, or during another sitting with a biopsy of the lymph nodes in the chest. Super D is a minimally-invasive alternative to mediastinoscopy, an out-patient surgical procedure done under general anaesthesia which leaves a scar right above the breast bone.

This year alone, more than 170.000 will be diagnosed, and more than 160.000 will die of lung cancer. An often symptom-less disease in its early stages, lung cancer develops over a period of many years and can spread to other organs and lymph nodes before the patient ever knows they have cancer. The disease is prevalent in smokers, and can also affect people who have never touched a cigarette but are exposed to second-hand smoke, environmental risks like asbestos, have other lung diseases such as tuberculosis or a family history of lung cancer.

The lung cancer programme at St. Vincent's Comprehensive Cancer Center includes a range of services from diagnosis through treatment of lung cancer. Patients benefit from an interdisciplinary approach to medical care that brings together the most current diagnostic and surgical techniques, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to offer patients a variety of treatment options. Support services such as counseling and group sessions to pain and symptom management, and the combined clinical expertise of the physicians and supporting nursing staff creates a healing environment for all patients.

St. Vincent's Comprehensive Cancer Center (SVCCC) provides individualized, comprehensive cancer care. A team of highly skilled professionals assists patients with every aspect of cancer care, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. SVCCC has some of the country's most accomplished cancer specialists, the latest treatment breakthroughs, an active clinical research programme, and a fully integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to care. The challenges faced by people with cancer and their families are met with a full range of complementary support services to help them through this very difficult time. The treatment area is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week with an expert nursing staff that help patients manage issues that arise after treatment.

Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers (SVCMC) is one of the New York metropolitan area's most comprehensive health care systems, serving nearly 600.000 people annually. SVCMC was established in 2000 as a result of the merger of Catholic Medical Centers of Brooklyn and Queens, Saint Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center of New York and Sisters of Charity Healthcare in Staten Island. Sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Sisters of Charity of New York, SVCMC serves as the academic medical center of New York Medical College in New York City.


Leslie Versweyveld

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