Robot Redefining Early Lung Cancer Treatment

early lung cancer procedure

Lung cancer is a very difficult disease. It has taken may lives -- most recently Drexel University president Constantine Papadakis.

Herbert Bruch, 76, was diagnosed with the cancer accidentally while being treated for another condition. He used to be a heavy smoker, but quit almost 30 years ago.

Bruch was lucky. Early detection is the best chance for those with the disease.

Now, thanks to a cutting-edge technique that is new to the Philadelphia area, early-stage lung cancers are easier to treat.

"This is really amazing what medicine has done and what can be done," Herbert's wife Joanne said of her husband's lung cancer procedure.

Phoenixville Hospital's dr. Art Martella said Bruch is also lucky because he had an unusual companion in the O.R. -- a robot.

Robotic surgery is already used to treat prostate cancer, heart disease and hysterectomy.

Dr. Martella is one of only a few surgeons using the robot to treat lung cancer.

"As far as treatment of the cancer it's the same procedure that we would do as the open procedure," said Dr. Martella. "So our goal is to remove the same amount of lung remove the tumor and remove lymph nodes the same."

Robotic surgery has fewer complications, according to Dr. Martella.

Patients have less pain, shorter hospital stays, reduced risk of infection and recover faster than in traditional surgery where surgeons cut through the ribs, Dr. Martella said.

"When we spread those ribs that causes pain and the more we spread them the more pain they are going to have and that pain has an effect on their ability to fight off tumors and other possible complications they may have from their surgery," Dr. Martella said.

Tiny instruments and a camera are inserted through small incisions. The doctor works the instruments from a console across the room from the patient. "The amazing thing with the robot is that there is tremendous magnification 10 to 15 times and we are seeing things in 3D," said Dr. Martella

Bruch said he was back to his regular activities in about 10 days.

"Hopefully a permanently safe outcome," Bruch said.

Since the procedure, Mr. Bruch remains cancer-free.

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