Lung Cancer Awareness Month: State-of-the-art testing at EMRMC

Published 11:02 am Monday, November 13, 2023

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By Lance Gaither 

On Nov. 1, the Ephraim McDowell Lung Center hosted a seminar at the Danville Country Club to raise awareness about lung cancer rates throughout the state and the technology available for screening available in Danville and Central Kentucky. Many people who are eligible to be screened for lung cancer are not being screened, according to hospital officials. Many presenters stated that one cause for hesitation could be the belief that someone would need to travel to Lexington or Louisville for screening and testing. They wanted to raise awareness that Ephraim McDowell has state-of-the-art technology to test for the disease.

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To be eligible for screening at Ephraim McDowell, smokers and former smokers must be betweens ages 50 and 80 and have pack year history of 20 or more. Pack years are calculated by multiplying the number of packs smoked per day by years as a smoker.     

The initial screening is a low dosage CT scan searching for spots on the lungs. Lindsay Knitter, a physicians assistant at the lung center emphasized the importance of regular screenings

“It is not just the first screening that is important,” Knitter said. “It is the continuous screens which helps us identify early lung cancers.”

If a nodule is suspected to be cancerous, a physician would likely order a biopsy. At Ephraim McDowell, a lung biopsy doesn’t mean surgery. To make biopsies easier, Ephraim McDowell utilizes a state of the art machine called the Ion Bronchoscopy System, one of only two in the state. The Ion is a robotic assistant device that allows doctors to perform biopsies on a lung nodule without a single incision.

The device utilizes a small, snake-like camera system that is inserted through the mouth and into the lungs. A 3D scan of the lungs is performed before the biopsy and software can generate a pathway through the lungs that leads directly to the nodule being biopsied.

Lung Center pulmonologist Dr. David Knitter said that the low impact the Ion device has on the patient even allows multiple biopsies to be performed.

“When you get the point of taking diagnostic specimens the robot holds the scopes position,” he said. It really is wonderful.”