Your Health: New lung navigation system

Doctors discovered a non-small cell carcinoma Paul McCracken's lung in 2011.
Doctors discovered a non-small cell carcinoma Paul McCracken's lung in 2011.

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Former smoker, Paul McCracken had part of a cancerous lung removed in 2003. A diagnosis of non-small cell carcinoma was discovered in 2011 in the other lung. But this time, physicians used a different method to find the cancer A type of scope.

"What this allows us to do, rather than use the force, we have an electromagnetic system, almost like a GPS system, that guides us through the tracheal bronchial tree", said Dr. Jason Smith.

McCracken describes the diagnostic experience from his perspective.

"When I woke up everything was done and the area he had to get into the lung was a hard area to get into and they've come so far with this bronchial scope now that they can maneuver more," he said.

"When we find lung cancer, 80 percent of patients have it spread, so that we can't do anything for cure. So only 20 percent of the folks we find actually have a chance for some kind of cure", said Dr. Smith.

Cancer usually involves radiation or surgery. McCracken has had 16 radiation treatments.

"If in a safe way we're able to be aggressive and do an outpatient manner, then it's so much better. Whether it gives them a peace of mind that this is an infection or an inflammation or 'oh wow we have cancer', we can start moving toward treatment", said Dr. Smith.

McCracken goes for a follow up CT scan in April.

Chest Med is the only practice in North Alabama to use this technology.

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