BBC Physician to Speak on Maintaining Healthy Lungs & New Approaches in Early Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

October 29, 2012

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common condition affecting men and women equally. It is estimated that approximately eight percent of all individuals have COPD, that number increases to approximately ten percent for those older than 40. Because it is both under-recognized and under-diagnosed COPD numbers may be even higher. 

In addition to COPD, of all the cancers, lung cancer is the most common cause of death worldwide for both men and women every year. There were approximately 220,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in the U.S. last year and 160,000 deaths. In contrast, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers combined amount to about 118,000 deaths annually.

Dr. Tammy Gleeson, a cardiovascular thoracic surgeon at Bronson Battle Creek, will offer a special presentation about ‘Lung Cancer Begins in Stealth Mode: Are You at Risk?’ on Wednesday. November 14, at Burnham Brook Center.  This presentation is tied to November’s focus on Lung Cancer and Chronic Lung Disease Awareness.

The program is part of Senior Health Partners’ ongoing ‘Aging Well’ series, which is free to the public.  A light luncheon will be served at 11:30 a.m. followed by Dr. Gleeson’s presentation at noon. Seating is limited.  For reservations call toll free 1-877-462-2247.

Dr. Gleeson will review the primary goals of managing lung disease.  Her presentation will also cover preventative measures in avoiding lung disease and new innovative options in early diagnosis of lung cancer. 
In 2010, Dr. Gleeson performed the first electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy procedure in Southwest Michigan to diagnose lung cancer.  This operation enabled her to examine the air passages of the lungs of her patient through a thin, fiber optic scope to diagnose lesions found there.

Using a GPS-like (global positioning system) navigation technology, unique sets of catheters are guided deep within and to the outer reaches of the lungs to examine peripheral lesions.  Once the lesions are reached, the surgeons can biopsy them, place radio-surgical markers for patients undergoing external beam radiation, or inject dye to provide visual guidance for robotic-assisted surgery.  

That innovative procedure began over two years ago.  Today an even newer and more advanced tool has been created and added to the BBC surgeons’ arsenals, again the first in Southwest Michigan, for diagnosing lung cancer, infections, and other inflammatory diseases in the chest.  It is called endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS).  The EBUS procedure allows physicians to obtain tissue or fluid samples from the lungs and surrounding lymph nodes in the chest without resorting to conventional invasive surgery, which can increase potential complications such as a collapsed lung.  

This specialized BBC outpatient surgery is performed on patients who are under anesthesia.  Then, a small, thin, flexible bronchoscope is passed into the mouth, through the trachea, and into the airways of the lungs.  Previously, an incision was made at the base of the neck and a scope inserted through it, increasing the chance for blood loss and infection.  

The new EBUS scope is equipped with an ultrasound device that searches out and produces images of the lymph nodes.  If a suspicious area is noticed, a painless biopsy is obtained with a needle.  That sample is then screened for possible irregularity of cells.  The entire procedure takes about 60 minutes.

“The EBUS is a remarkable improvement over previous procedures that involved invasive chest surgery and could require up to three to four days in the hospital,” said Dr. Gleeson.  “EBUS patients recover quickly and generally go home the same day.”

Using the EBUS allows surgeons to ‘visualize’ lymph nodes to biopsy more precisely.  “This means that we can take a sample tissue with higher accuracy without worry of hitting a blood vessel or missing a lymph node,” Dr. Gleeson continued.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women and men, and the second leading cause of cancer in the United States.  Last year, lung cancer killed more than 150,000 Americans. 

The earlier a disease is diagnosed, the more treatment options are available to patients.  The use of the endobronchial ultrasound is now a trusted ally allowing doctors to diagnose, stage, and treat thoracic cancers sooner, giving patients a higher rate of survival.  

“Anytime we can get the same or better information about a disease without more invasive intervention, is always good news for our patients,” concluded Dr. Gleeson.  “We can do that with this new EBUS procedure at Bronson Battle Creek.”
Senior Health Partners is a community collaboration founded by Bronson Battle Creek and includes the Area Agency on Aging, CentraCare, and Summit Pointe all working together around the shared mission of improving the health and wellness of older adults and family caregivers.

Bronson Battle Creek is a 218-bed hospital that provides full outpatient and inpatient acute care including robotic surgery, diagnostics, and rehabilitation services; 100% all private rooms.  It also offers world-class diagnostic capabilities including PET/CT imaging, freestanding ‘open’ and traditional MRI, CT (16- and 64-slice), and 3.0 Tesla MRI.  Bronson Battle Creek has been recognized nationally as one of the safest hospitals, and has been a leader in the development of electronic health records as evidenced by multiple honors as one of America’s ‘most wired’ and ‘most wireless’ hospitals. The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons recognizes the Bronson Battle Creek Cancer Care Center as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program, and the only hospital in Michigan to receive the CoC’s Outstanding Achievement Award three times in a row. Specialty services include inpatient behavioral health, the county’s largest accredited sleep center, and a wound-healing center with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  For nine years, Bronson Healthcare has been included on Working Mother magazine’s 100 Best Companies list as a leading family friendly employer.