Lung Cancer Bronchoscopy Procedures
Learn More About Bronchoscopy for Lung Cancer: Chat with Us | Email Us
Video: Navigational BronchoscopyNavigational Bronchoscopy
Our doctors use navigational bronchoscopy to detect tumors deep inside the lungs. With this minimally invasive technology, we can find cancerous cells that other tools may not detect.
Bronchoscopy Procedures for Lung Cancer
Interventional Pulmonology techniques can be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments to diagnose lung cancer, treat tumors and relieve symptoms that are limiting your breathing or causing pain.
The lung cancer team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) specializes in advanced, minimally invasive bronchoscopy techniques for many of our interventional pulmonology procedures. Bronchoscopy is a sophisticated technology that uses a flexible tube with a camera at the end (a bronchoscope) that allows us to look inside the lungs and airway.
Our cancer doctors use the bronchoscope to deliver laser and other cancer-killing technologies to tumors buried deep inside the lungs. As a result, we can manage symptoms like bleeding or coughing, open up a blocked airway and treat a very early stage lung cancer or a previously treated area.
Our lung cancer patients benefit from bronchoscopy procedures because they minimize the risks of more invasive treatments. (Learn more about bronchoscopy.)
Navigational Bronchoscopy – This technology combines advanced imaging techniques with electromagnetic navigation to help find and treat cancer anywhere in the lungs. Navigational bronchoscopy allows our cancer doctors to reach distant tumors by advancing the scope into smaller bronchi or bronchi that are blocked by a tumor.
Navigational bronchoscopy procedures may be used to:
- Suction excess fluid or mucus from the airway or chest.
- Control bleeding in the airway.
- Therapeutically remove foreign bodies from the airway, such as aspirated food.
- Treat growths or tumors in the airway using radiation (see HDR brachytherapy).
- Place airway stents (see below).
Balloon Bronchoscopy – Lung cancer can cause the airway to narrow because of tumors or scarring, a process called stenosis. The result can be difficult breathing. Stenosis also makes it difficult, or impossible, to reach tumors and other tissues that require treatment. Our cancer doctors use balloon bronchoscopy to open airways that are blocking tumors or which require other treatment.
Advanced Bronchoscopy Treatments
Bronchoscopy may be used alone to open airways and provide symptom relief, or to facilitate other advanced treatments:
Airway Stents – A stent is a tiny tube made of silicone or metal that your doctor may use to open an airway before or after other therapeutic treatments. If other treatments are not effective at relieving your symptoms or treating airway blockages, your doctor may place a stent to maintain an open airway and help you breathe better.
Video: Photodynamic TherapyLearn about photodynamic therapy
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) – This innovative bronchoscopy procedure uses light-activated drugs and a laser to destroy cancer cells and treat symptomatic tissues. First, your doctor injects a photosensitizing agent to make cells more sensitive to light. The drugs are absorbed by cancer cells over the course of a couple of days. Next, your doctor applies laser light to the airway using bronchoscopy-guidance. When the laser is turned on, it shines on the tumor and reacts with photosensitized cells to destroy them.
PDT takes minutes to complete. It can be performed on an outpatient basis, is relatively pain-free, requires minimal sedation, involves less risk than surgery and has minimal side effects because healthy tissue is spared. PDT can also be repeated on the same area, unlike radiation and chemotherapy, which makes it a good option for treating tumors that recur. The most common side effect of this bronchosopy treatment is sensitivity to bright light, which lasts 4-6 weeks.
Nd-YAG Laser – We use this powerful laser to “vaporize” tumors. The laser is directed at tumors deep inside the lungs through a bronchoscope. When the YAG energy hits the cancer, it turns it into smoke. The smoke can then be sucked out of the lung, removing the tumor from the airway.
The YAG laser penetrates tissue more deeply than other lasers. It also offers a virtually bloodless treatment by clotting the area quickly. This is important for the lungs, which tend to have dense concentrations of blood vessels and a high risk of bleeding complications during other treatments. The YAG laser is also called the Holmium and Nd: yttrium-aluminum-garnet laser.
Video: Argon Plasma CoagulationDr. Mark Lund explains argon plasma coagulation.
Argon Plasma Coagulation (APC) – Our doctors also treat tumors and control bleeding in the airways using argon, a gas that behaves like a liquid. The argon gas is passed through the bronchoscope. At the same time, an electrical current is applied, converting the gas into a liquid plasma. The plasma applies itself to tumors, bending to conform to the precise shape. This kills cancerous cells without touching the tumor, which is important for tumors that are bleeding.
Our doctors also perform this bronchoscopy procedure to cauterize blood vessels that are bleeding and causing a patient to cough up blood. They “paint” the area with the plasma to stop any bleeding. APC is safe to use on thin tissues, such as those that line the lungs and airway.
Cryotherapy – Cryotherapy is the use of extreme cold to destroy abnormal or diseased tissue. We use cryotherapy to treat lung cancer tumors, as well as obstructions in the airway and other parts of the body. Cryotherapy may be an effective treatment for lung cancer tumors that cannot be removed by surgery. Cryotherapy can also be a life-saving option for patients with obstructions in the airway, especially those who have a stent and would not be candidates for other treatments.
Next Topic: Other Innovative Bronchoscopy Procedures