By Kathy Walsh

LONE TREE, Colo. (CBS4) – Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Early detection and treatment are key.

Now at Sky Ridge Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente surgeons are using a new way to catch and treat lung cancer faster.

(credit: CBS)

It uses high tech mapping of the lungs and a robot. The surgeons consider it safer and less invasive. For patients, it can be a lifesaver.

Judy Arpaio was an RN for 40 years. Still, she was worried when doctors wanted to remove a nodule on her lung.

Judy Arpaio talks with Dr. Lanny Dunham. (credit: CBS)

“It was very scary, very anxious about it,” she told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

“She had a small lung cancer that was too small to biopsy, and it would have been too small to remove by normal means,” said Dr. Lanny Dunham, a Kaiser Permanente Thoracic Surgeon.

Dunham offered Judy a new surgical technique. In collaboration with Sky Ridge Medical Center, he has been combining technologies.

With a CT scan, Dunham first uses a sort of chest navigation system, similar to GPS (Veran Medical).

CBS4’s Karen Leigh interviews Dr. Lanny Dunham. (credit: CBS)

“The screen tells me where to go. I put my needle in and I can precisely locate the nodule,” said Dunham.

He marks the area with blue dye. Then, Dunham removes the growth through small incisions using a four-armed robot (Da Vinci).

“It’s a bit like the Wizard of Oz. I’m the man behind the curtain controlling the robot,” he said. “To be able to go in and pluck out tiny nodules a year or two before we were able to diagnose them before has changed everything.”

(credit: CBS)

Kaiser Permanente and Sky Ridge were among the first in the country to begin using the technique. Dunham now does about a hundred of these surgeries a year.

“I do have CAT scans every three months and so far so good,” said Judy.

Judy is thankful for the procedure that’s saving lungs and saving lives.

Kathy Walsh

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