Robotic technology will help Franciscan Health doctors spot lung cancer more accurately

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Doctors at the  Franciscan Health Cancer Center are being trained on technology that will more accurately locate cancer and find it sooner.

The doctors said they're the first in the state to use the Auris Health Monarch Platform, a navigation tool to view the inside of lungs and obtain a tissue sample for biopsy.

"This was a need out there, and this technology was developed to make us be more precise and accurate to reach different corners of the lung," said Dr. Faisal Khan, one of only two inventional pulmonologists in Indiana, according to Franciscan Health.

The Monarch uses a familiar controller-like interface – appearing much like a hand-held game device – and combines views inside the lung with computer-assisted navigation based on 3-D models of a patient’s own lung anatomy. The system provides Dr. Khan with continuous bronchoscope vision throughout the entire outpatient procedure. 

Prior to this technology, doctors couldn't manually navigate the lung to find potentially cancerous spots. Khan compared the airwaves in lungs to tree branches.

"You have a main trunk, it splits and it splits and it splits, and each branch is coming off of it at a sharp angle," the doctor said. "A traditional scope can’t navigate and make all those turns. This technology allows you to do that."

Dr. Khan and a few others at the cancer center are going through training to learn how to use the technology. He said patients will begin going through it in the middle of July.

According to Franciscan Health, approximately 81% of people diagnosed with lung cancer do not survive because in most cases, the disease is not detected until advanced stages.

The American Lung Association estimated more than 150,000 Americans died from lung cancer last year, but the early detection that the Monarch system can provide can increase someone's chances of survival.

"If you catch lung cancer early, early stage one, the five-year survival is 90% plus," Khan said.

The doctor added that eventually the technology will allow patients to go through diagnosis, staging and treatment at the same time.

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