SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) –  One of the trickiest cancers for doctors to diagnose is lung cancer. That’s because every time a patient with lung nodules breathes, those nodules move.

Doctors need to look at your lungs and air passages to detect those nodules that may be cancerous. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, now they can do it with a tool considered a GPS system for the lungs.

It may look like some video game Commonwealth Health Pulmonologist Bassel Noumi, MD is playing. It’s actually a game changer at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton when it comes to detecting and treating potential lung cancers. “So, it definitely opened a new door to reach parts of the lung that can’t be reached with a regular bronchoscopy.”

These days, Dr. Noumi performs what’s called navigational bronchoscopy. These images are the result of using a flexible, fiber-optic bronchoscope with a light source and camera on the end. It’s a major upgrade from traditional bronchoscopies. Moses Taylor Hospital Director of Surgical Services Gordon Travis, RN said, “We’d have to do open lung biopsies. Now, we’re able to use the bronchoscope and take a specimen and give a patient an instant diagnosis.”

A diagnosis that once took weeks or even months is now made possible immediately thanks to electromagnetic CT scan guidance and 3 dimensional imagery. Dr. Noumi said, “The precision is really high because we have live-time feedback from the radiology.”

Dr. Noumi has used navigational bronchoscopy to perform biopsies on lung nodules and masses on the edge of the lung. The system can also place very small metal markers within the lung to be used as guidance for surgery and other treatment. “It locates the lesion within the lung and allow for external beam radiation therapy to be specified to be directed into a specific region of the lung where the lesion is,” he said.  

A quicker diagnosis, treatment and recovery for the patient thanks to navigational bronchoscopy. “These patients go home the same day and are routine next day back to regular activities,” said Mr. Travis.

Navigational bronchoscopy can also detect signs of infection, blockages, bleeding and excess mucous in the lungs. Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton started using the new technology just this year.