Technological Breakthrough for Early Detection of Lung Cancer Now Available at Monongahela Valley Hospital

(January 25, 2016 - Carroll Township, Pa.)

It is common knowledge that early cancer detection saves lives. Monongahela Valley Hospital now has a new tool that aids physicians in the early detection of lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. It kills more Americans each year than breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers combined. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 224,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. The good news is that with early detection, the survival rate increases from 15 percent (stage IV) to as high as 92 percent (stage I).

MVH is among the first hospitals in the region to use the SPiN Thoracic Navigation System in the detection of lung cancer. The SPiN Thoracic Navigation System is the only system in the world that allows physicians to accurately access small lung lesions via multiple approaches. This assists physicians in detecting lung cancer earlier and without the need for incisions or multiple hospital visits for diagnostic procedures.

The screening begins with a low-dose CT scan. If the scan reveals a suspicious mark or a lesion, a CT image of the patient's airways is used to plan the route to the abnormality. The computerized thoracic navigation system is then used to automatically register the patient's unique anatomy and advance the instrument toward the mark or lesion in the lung. The system functions similarly to a vehicle's GPS system because it provides a detailed route to the site of the lesion. Once the instrument reaches the site, the physician takes biopsies of the lesion while the instrument is in place. The navigation and biopsy process takes approximately 30-45 minutes.

Beginning this year, Medicare Part B and many private insurance plans cover annual lung cancer screenings with low-dose CT scans for people who meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Age range from 55 to 77
  • A 30 - pack year - have smoked a pack of cigarettes for 30 years, two packs for 15 years or three packs for 10 years
  • Actively smoking or have quit within the past 15 years
  • Free from signs or symptoms of lung disease
  • Possess a written order from a physician or qualified non-physician practitioner

"People can come to Monongahela Valley Hospital for lung screening with the confidence that our physicians have the ability to reach some lesions which may be difficult or even impossible to reach with a traditional bronchoscope," said Louis J. Panza Jr., MVH's president and CEO. "The thoracic navigation system is yet another example of the progressive technology our physicians have available to provide the highest level of care to patients."

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