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Navigational bronchoscopy catches lung cancer sooner, saving lives

Lung cancer is being detected sooner than ever thanks to advanced technology right here in the mountains. (Photo credit: Covidien)

Lung cancer is being detected sooner than ever thanks to advanced technology right here in the mountains.

Linda Sheppard needed answers, and she got them after meeting Dr. Scott Skibo and undergoing a G.P.S.-like procedure that guided a camera down her airway, reached the far-away trouble spot, and took a piece of tissue.

"Navigational bronchoscopy is a way we can try to diagnose small nodules in someone's lungs if they're cancerous at an early stage," said Dr. Skibo, the director of interventional thoracic oncology at Haywood Regional Medical Center in Clyde.

"It wasn't bad because you sleep through it and you wake up not knowing you're awake," recalled Sheppard of the experience.

"Patients will have their procedure and then go home within an hour or so of having the procedure," Skibo added.

When Sheppard came back to see the doctor, the 77-year-old learned she had early stage lung cancer and opted for surgery at Haywood Regional only days later.

"Not too many people find their cancer and have it out in two weeks," she said. "Isn't that amazing?"

Even more amazing, Sheppard is cancer free with no further treatment required at this time -- all because of navigational bronchoscopy.


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