New robots at Hillcrest Medical Center help in fight against lung cancer
KTUL - November 7, 2023 5:53 am
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — In a significant stride for Oklahoma’s healthcare landscape during Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Hillcrest Medical Center has shown off new technology aimed at saving lives before it’s too late.
Hillcrest says it has two new robots dedicated to identifying and stopping the disease in its early stages.
The innovative technology, referred to by Dr. Rachel Pattison as a game-changer in the fight against lung cancer, streamlines the lung biopsy process. Pattison said Hillcrest is also the first hospital in the state to offer the new option to Oklahomans.
“[The robots] are changing the face of lung cancer throughout the entire nation,” said Pattison. “So to get this program started in Tulsa is a blessing.”
Pattison emphasized the critical importance of early detection, noting that only 2% of Oklahomans eligible for lung cancer screening actually pursue the scans.
Hillcrest’s new robots, capable of biopsying small nodules as tiny as the size of a green pea, revolutionize the screening process. The robots enable doctors to investigate and biopsy areas within the lungs that are typically challenging to visualize and difficult to reach using conventional tools.
In most cases, the process involves identifying a small nodule, conducting a biopsy with the new robot, staging the lung cancer and then swiftly moving to surgery for resection which helps lead to a cure. Pattison said the robots are also fairly easy to get the hang of.
“Like a controller, video game or driving a car,” said Pattison. “Once you get the hang of it, it moves very quickly.”
Pattison underlined the simplicity of the screening process, urging Oklahomans with concerns not to delay seeking a screening.
“If you’re diagnosed early stage with that small, small nodule you’re curable,” said Pattison. “You don’t want to wait until you’re losing weight and having symptoms. At that point, it’s a terminal disease.”
Pattison said that in most cases the medical procedures are covered by insurance plans. Scheduling a screening appointment at Hillcrest is the primary step, and Pattison said the outpatient procedure can typically be set up within a week, ensuring swift access to the lifesaving technology.