Once a patient is diagnosed with lung cancer, the physician will then determine what stage the cancer is in. Staging is the process in which the physician finds out how much the lung cancer has spread. This is important to know because the treatment plan as well as the general outlook for your recovery largely depends on the stage of the disease.
Accurate staging allows the physician and oncologist to determine the most effective treatment plan for the patient. It may prevent unnecessary surgery if another treatment method would be more effective, like radiation or chemotherapy. If a patient does require surgery, staging helps the surgeon know how much lung tissue should be removed.
Traditionally, physicians have relied on invasive procedures, like surgery, to accurately determine staging. However, a relatively new procedure called endobronchial ultrasound is being used to diagnose and stage lung cancer.
Endobronchial ultrasound is a highly effective, minimally invasive procedure that enables physicians to retrieve tissue or fluid samples from the lungs and surrounding lymph nodes without surgery. During this procedure, the physician performs needle aspiration using a bronchoscope inserted through the mouth. A special ultrasound probe with a thin aspiration needle is guided through the patient’s airways.
This procedure allows the surgeon to have a real-time imaging of the lungs, lymph nodes, blood vessels, and airways. Unlike traditional methods, the surgeon is able to biopsy smaller areas and hard to reach places. Results are received quickly and more samples can be retrieved if required by the pathologist. Because there is no incision, patients are able to recover quickly and return home the same day.
Endobronchial ultrasound is only one of the many innovative technologies the Chest Center of the Carolinas at FirstHealth Moore Regional offers to diagnose and stage lung cancer. We are a nationally recognized lung cancer treatment center located in Pinehurst, NC with patient outcomes that surpass national averages.