Diagnosing and Staging Cancer with Advanced Pulmonology Techniques and Technology
Dr. Michael Muzoora
In the past, by the time a patient showed symptoms of lung cancer, it was almost always when the disease was advanced.
Early detection, in the form of low-dose CT lung screening, is changing that, and pulmonologists also have new technologies that help them locate and learn more about patients’ lung cancer.
"We have the ability to evaluate lung cancer in detail, using endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) or endobrachial ultrasound (EBUS),” said Dr. Michael Muzoora, a pulmonologist with Owensboro Health Medical Group – Pulmonology. “We can diagnose smaller lung cancers using navigational bronchoscopy. We can also use endobronchial techniques to intervene on larger tumors that are obstructing airways.” EUS, EBUS and navigational bronchoscopy all use small scopes that are inserted into the patient’s windpipe or esophagus. This gives access without using surgery, so physicians can map a cancer’s location, determine its stage and biopsy cells for testing.
These approaches also make a difference in differentiating cancer from other diseases.
"Therapy for lung cancer depends on being able to adequately stage the cancer. Now, patients can get better staging without going through more invasive surgical techniques," Dr. Muzoora said. "We are therefore able to offer more tailored therapy, we can obtain quality specimens used for evaluation, genetic testing and mutation analysis, all of which are very important in tailoring treatment."
"We live in an area with high rates of fungal infections and other conditions or diseases that mimic lung cancer,” Dr. Muzoora said. “The other imaging technology we commonly use, positron emission tomography (PET) scan, is very poor at telling the difference between lung cancer and fungal infections.”
This use of technology ultimately makes a big difference for patients with lung cancer, Dr. Muzoora said.
"Better staging and some of the targeted therapies that are now available mean that even patients with advanced, non-small cell lung cancer more often have a long, progression-free survival,” Dr. Muzoora said. “This means they can live a longer, higher-quality life with their loved ones.”