SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — November is lung cancer awareness month and the American Cancer Society estimates nearly a quarter-million new cases of lung cancer this year. Detecting it as quickly as possible is key to successful treatment.

Traditional low-dose radiation lung cancer screening, combined with a needle and/or a scalpel is the go-to method, but now a local hospital has a new tool to diagnose lung cancer quickly and speed up patient treatment.

Commonwealth Health cardiothoracic surgeon Brian Mott, MD is the man at the controls.

Doctor Mott says, “You can see we’re down in the lung. We’re down into one of the lobes.”

He’s navigating a pink plastic airway system that replicates a person’s tracheobronchial tree.

The tool he’s using to do the maneuvering is called a robotic navigational bronchoscopy.

It’s the first of its kind in northeastern Pennsylvania and it’s helping revolutionize the way lung cancer is detected at the Regional Hospital of Scranton.

Before entering an actual airway, he takes the patient’s CT scan and feeds it into the software to pick the tumor or nodule he’s looking for.

“It’ll generate a GPS-like, three-dimensional path to show me how to get the catheter into the patient’s real airway to get to where the nodule really is,” said Dr. Mott.

The robotic navigational bronchoscopy uses a flexible tube with a light and a camera to produce crystal-clear images and collect tissue samples or a biopsy.

Within minutes, the diagnosis can be made which was the case last month for this 78-year-old man from the Poconos.

“It was easier than getting a tooth pulled. I mean I went to sleep, I woke up and after I left the hospital, me and my wife went out to breakfast,” said Steve, a lung cancer patient.

“And he had a rather small, 1.3-centimeter tumor. We navigated up to the top, found it, did the biopsy and we knew that day that he had lung cancer.” Dr. Mott said.

No needle or traditional surgical procedure was necessary for the diagnosis. Now Steve can begin radiation and chemotherapy treatments more quickly.

“Every day is a gift,” said Steve.

“So we want to get all those patients, pick them up earlier so we can treat them earlier and have a better outcome,” explained Dr. Mott.

Dr. Mott has done four cases so far using robotic navigational bronchoscopy.

He says someday the technology is expected to be used not only to diagnose but also to treat lung cancer.