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Local Physician Introduces New Procedure to help Diagnose Lung Cancer

State-of-the-art EBUS procedure available at Silver Cross Hospital

Joliet, IL (December 27, 2011) – Lung cancer is one of the deadliest cancers because it is often diagnosed after it has spread. There is now a technological breakthrough to help patients with lung and lymph node tumors to be more accurately diagnosed – and diagnosed earlier – so patients can have more treatment options.

dec 003An endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) is a procedure that provides detailed information to help diagnose or determine the stage of lung cancer. This technique allows doctors to view regions of your lungs and surrounding chest area without a more invasive surgical procedure such as a sinusocopy. The EBUS procedure allows physicians to perform a technique known as transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) to obtain tissue or fluid samples from the lungs and surrounding lymph nodes without conventional surgery.

"Not only are we able to provide patients with a one-time procedure that has a faster recovery time, but EBUS also allows us to display real-time, improved images of the surface of the airways, blood vessels, lungs and lymph nodes," shares Dr. Salah Lababidy, pulmonary specialist on staff at Silver Cross Hospital. “This allows physicians to view hard-to-reach areas, smaller lymph nodes and tumors for biopsy compared to conventional surgery.

Dorothy Smeets, 69, of Joliet, was recently diagnosed with lung cancer after an EBUS procedure with Dr. Lababidy. A heavy smoker, Smeets visited the hospital this past September because she was suffering from severe pain in her right rib. Dr. Lababidy performed a CT scan which revealed a mediastinal mass. This mass concerned him, so Dr. Lababidy suggested Smeets come in for an EBUS procedure. 

“This procedure was painless,” says Smeets. “I was in and out within a few hours, the doctor and his staff was so helpful.”

Smeets was placed under conscious sedation while a small bronchoscope was passed through the mouth down through the trachea and into the airways of the lungs. The scope is equipped with an ultrasound device that produces images of lymph nodes and other structures in the lungs. If abnormal areas are seen on the ultrasound, the doctor can then take a sample of tissue with the painless aspiration needle guided by the ultrasound.  The first sample was examined by a pathologist who confirmed the diagnosis of lung cancer, on the same day the patient's oncologist was notified and further work up and treatment plan was discussed.

“In order to create the best treatment plan for lung cancer, it is important to understand which stage the cancer is in and how much it has spread,” says Dr. Lababidy. Accurate staging can reduce the amount of tissue that is removed during surgery and may also spare you from going through unnecessary surgery if your cancer would be best treated with another method. “Traditionally, accurate staging required invasive tests, but the ultrasound is virtually painless which is why it is an ideal alternative.” 

Today, Smeets is recovering from her on-going chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She is glad she was able to diagnose her cancer early on and can now fight to cure herself.

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