AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The CDC reports that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

To help diagnose patients earlier, physicians at Doctors Hospital are now using an innovative technology. 

“There’s approximately 200 to 250 thousand new cases of lung cancer every year,” said Dr. Dominic Gallo, cardiothoracic surgeon at Doctors Hospital. “And about 150 thousand deaths from lung cancer every year.”

New technology allows doctors to biopsy lung nodules that can’t normally be biopsied.

They tell us this bronchoscopy procedure allows for them to find and treat lung cancer sooner.

“Smaller nodules, more peripheral in the lung, are harder to reach with a standard bronchoscope,” said Dr. Alan DeAngelo, a pulmonologist at Doctors Hospital. “Doing this procedure enables that diagnosis in a timely manner, generally within one to two weeks of initial visit and referral.”

Doctors say lung cancer grows undetected and by the time it is discovered, it has usually spread.

Using a CT scan, the technology creates a 3-D model of airways and a detailed navigation plan for lung biopsy.

If cancer is discovered, a treatment plan can be put in place.

“We can perform surgical resections of lung cancers – or oncologic resections of the lung and all the lymph nodes- and have you out of the hospital in two to four days,” said Dr. Gallo.

Dr. DeAngelo tells us he has performed more than 100 successful bronchoscopy procedures on patients at Doctors Hospital.

“The goal with lung cancer is always earlier treatment,” he said. “So, for my practice, this technology has literally been a game changer in terms of the number of patients I can offer this procedure to and an early diagnosis to.”