Detect. Test. Treat. Methodist’s Commitment to Lung Care Is Saving Lives
Whether they’re helping patients manage chronic conditions or navigate cancer diagnoses, Methodist Health System’s lung experts know that every person and situation is unique. With that in mind, Methodist tailors its care to each patient to help ensure the best possible outcomes.
Methodist is recognized as a leader in pulmonary care – identifying and treating a range of issues – and is home to the region’s most comprehensive lung cancer program. Its multidisciplinary team of providers shares a common goal: to detect, test and treat lung conditions as early and effectively as possible. From diagnosis through recovery, Methodist combines compassionate, personalized care with state-of-the-art techniques.
Methodist is home to the region’s preeminent lung cancer screening program, which performs thousands of low-dose CT scans annually for eligible patients at risk for lung cancer.
This quick and painless scan, which exposes patients to less radiation than a standard CT scan, produces detailed images to help detect abnormalities. The result is more lung cancers caught earlier – before symptoms are present and outcomes are worse.
Meanwhile, Methodist’s Incidental Lung Nodule Program uses cutting-edge computer software to identify suspicious growths, known as nodules, that show up on CT scans taken for unrelated reasons. Nurse navigators review the findings and forward them on for physician review and action, when necessary.
In 2021, the software reviewed over 16,000 Methodist scans, leading to over 900 patients with nodules flagged for monitoring or further testing. Of those patients, more than 40 had lung cancer.
“I think one life saved from capturing these incidental nodules is enough of a reason to have the program,” said Methodist Physicians Clinic pulmonologist Sumit Mukherjee, MD.
While Methodist offers traditional biopsy methods – including a CT-guided needle through the patient’s rib cage or a surgeon’s incision – it has pushed ahead to give patients a better experience.
Methodist was the first health system in the region to use the Ion by Intuitive robot-assisted biopsy system to examine lung nodules. The system’s software pairs with a CT scan to create a 3D visualization of the lungs and allow a pulmonologist to map a preplanned route to a nodule. Then, during a bronchoscopy – a procedure in which a small camera is passed down a patient’s throat to the lungs – the pulmonologist uses the Ion’s controller to guide an ultra-thin, flexible catheter to the nodule for a biopsy. The method allows providers to perform biopsies of smaller and harder-to-reach lung nodules – catching cancer sooner through a less invasive approach.
Patients with lung cancer benefit from an individualized treatment plan developed during a multidisciplinary care conference with specialists in surgical oncology, medical oncology, pulmonology and cardiothoracic surgery. Treatment may include medication, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, followed by pulmonary rehabilitation.
In many cases, Methodist surgeons use robotic-assisted surgery – improving their own precision and access to areas of concern while benefitting patients through smaller incisions, less pain, fewer possible complications and reduced hospital stays. In the past year, Methodist became the first health system in the region to offer a start-to-finish robotic treatment approach, pairing Ion biopsy technology with the da Vinci XI robotic-assisted surgical system to identify and remove cancers.
The dramatic reduction in time from diagnosis to treatment – potentially less than a day – “is pretty darn cool,” said cardiothoracic surgeon HelenMari Merritt-Genore, DO.
“You can have a robotic approach from both your diagnostic procedure all the way through your treatment,” she said.
A Commitment to Total Lung Care
Whatever pulmonary issue a patient may face, Methodist is committed to offering solutions that help improve their quality of life. And as lung cancer care continues to become more proactive, Methodist providers will be on the forefront – striving for innovation and showing each patient The Meaning of Care.