YOUR HEALTH: A GPS device for tracking cancer

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Lung cancer can be particularly deceiving.

The cancer nodules move every time a person breathes making it incredibly difficult for doctors to pinpoint their location.

But now some surgeons are using an electromagnetic system to track this deadly cancer.

The technology that is guiding Dr. Aldo Parodi as he examines the lungs is very much like what drivers use daily to navigate the roadway.

The Veran Spin's thoracic navigation system has electromagnetic sensors that are placed on the patient's chest.   They pinpoint deadly cancer nodules inside, as Dr. Parodi uses the bronchoscope.

"So, I am seeing what I am doing in real time, at all times," said Dr. Parodi, a pulmonary disease specialist at San Antonio's Baptist Health Systems.

That's critical, because lung cancer nodules move when a patient breathes, making them nearly impossible to pinpoint and remove.

"It's going to enable Dr. Parodi to see probably 90% more of that tumor than he could with just a regular CAT scan," said Ernest Gottfried, one of his patients.

This year, 250,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed.   Many will be fatal.

When Ernie first found out he had a carcinoid tumor, his thoughts turned to an old habit.

"Every freshman that I knew when I started college, we all smoked."

Ernie quit 18 years ago.

Even with his smoking history, Ernie has good lung capacity and doctors believe he will benefit from this early interventional technique.

"He doesn't have to open me up, but it will be like my whole chest is wide open and he can see everything."

A click of the mouse to diagnose and plot a course of treatment for early stage lung cancer.

LUNG CANCER IN WOMEN:   Lung cancer rates have been falling for men while increasing for women in many countries, including the U.S.   New research has found the hormone estrogen to be a significant factor.   Researchers took tumor samples from 813 patients composed of 450 women and 363 men and laboratory analysis showed that the expression of estrogen receptor beta (ER-beta), a hormone receptor that inhibits tumor growth, was lower in women than in men.   This indicates circulating levels of estrogen could modify ER-beta levels.   Hormone receptors could also be affected by cigarette smoking because there are higher levels of estrogen receptor alpha which promotes tumor growth, in smokers compared with non-smokers

Survival rates plummet when lung cancer is diagnosed at stage three or four, that's when most lung cancers are diagnosed.

Right now, 260 hospitals nationwide are using the new technology, which is covered by insurance.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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