A hospital in Wales is using a new scan to spot signs of cancer early.
The electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy (ENB) uses GPS-like technology to build a 3D image of the lung, highlighting small or hidden tumours that might previously have been missed.
This technology then helps doctors steer a catheter through the lungs’ most complex airways, as well as guiding surgeons to parts of the lungs to remove the tumours. They can then treat cancerous tumours as quickly as possible.
Dr Robin Poyner is a respiratory consultant at Glan Clwyd Hospital, only the second hospital in the UK to use the equipment. He describes the scan as ‘game-changing’ and believes it will lead to a “significant improvement” in cancer care.
“Most patients who have ENB treatment can go home on the same day so this is a major advancement in technology for us and will lead to a significant improvement in cancer care in north Wales.”
Lung cancer is difficult to detect early. As a result, around three quarters of those with the disease are unable to have curative treatment. This new technology gives new hope of getting ahead of the disease, which was certainly the case of Ann Bedford.
Any way we can detect and diagnose lung cancer earlier, when curative treatment may be possible, is a vital step forward in getting ahead of this disease.Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
Ms Bedford, from Anglesey, was first diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. She recovered well but recently found herself feeling unwell. She was sent for a check-up in hospital where an ENB found her cancer had returned. Fortunately, it was at an early stage and she required just a short course of chemotherapy.
Had it not been for the ENB, this might not have been the case, as respiratory consultant, Daniel Menzies, explains:
“Up until now it has been difficult to get an early diagnosis, sometimes because of the location of the cancer in the patient’s chest.
“We may have had to watch them over months or even years before we were sure. “Unfortunately, sometimes over the period the patient can become more unwell and frail and it means their treatment options become more limited.
“Using this technology, we can get there faster and give the treatment to them much quicker”.
Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, is excited by the news:
“The biggest hurdle we face is diagnosing lung cancer early. Symptoms, such as a cough, breathlessness or fatigue, can be vague and easily dismissed as something else, particularly at the moment during the coronavirus pandemic.
Any way we can detect and diagnose lung cancer earlier, when curative treatment may be possible, is a vital step forward in getting ahead of this disease.”