Allegheny Health Network First in Pittsburgh Region to Use Ion Robotic Lung Biopsy System, Advancing Early Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

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Allegheny Health Network (AHN) is the first health care provider in the Pittsburgh region to offer patients access to the Ion robotic lung biopsy system, an innovative new technology that can help physicians diagnose cancer at its earliest stages, when it is most curable.

“Advances such as the Ion Endoluminal System are critically important in helping us diagnose cancer early, giving patients their best chance of a good outcome.”Benny Weksler, MD, System Director of General Thoracic Surgery, Allegheny Health Network

Allegheny Health Network (AHN) is the first health care provider in the Pittsburgh region to offer patients access to the Ion robotic lung biopsy system, an innovative new technology that can help physicians diagnose cancer at its earliest stages, when it is most curable.

The Ion Endoluminal System by Intuitive is a robotic-assisted technology for minimally invasive lung biopsies. Its ultra-thin catheter, maneuverability and stability allows doctors to reach peripheral areas of the lung that cannot be readily accessed with traditional biopsy methods.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States, and more than half of diagnoses are made after the disease has spread to other parts of the body” said Benny Weksler, MD, System Director of General Thoracic Surgery at AHN. “Advances such as the Ion Endoluminal System are critically important in helping us diagnose cancer early, giving patients their best chance of a good outcome.”

The 5-year survival rate for people with all types of lung cancer is less than 20 percent, according to the American Lung Association. For disease that has not spread beyond the lungs, the five-year survival rate is about 56 percent.

Doctors recommend a biopsy in order to confirm a lung cancer diagnosis. When the suspected cancer is located deep in the patient’s peripheral lung, traditional biopsy methods such as bronchoscopy can’t navigate the narrow airways to reach the spot.

“Not only does the Ion system let us access hard-to-reach tumors, it’s a less invasive option than prior biopsy methods,” Dr. Weksler said. “We can make a diagnosis by sampling tissue from small nodules located in the far reaches of the lung. By catching these small cancers, we can provide effective interventions and increase survival rates.”

The catheter is typically inserted through a patient’s mouth. It can maneuver 180 degrees in all directions, through tiny airways and around tight bends. Once the target nodule is reached, the catheter locks into place to provide the stability needed for precise placement of biopsy tools.

AHN joins other leading cancer centers nationwide, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Mayo Clinic in offering the Ion robotic lung biopsy option to patients.

About Allegheny Health Network – and the AHN Cancer Institute
Allegheny Health Network, a Highmark Health Company, is a western Pennsylvania-based integrated healthcare system that serves patients from across a five-state region that includes western Pennsylvania and the adjacent regions of Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and New York. The Network’s Cancer Institute employs more than 200 physicians and 500 oncology professionals who provide a complete spectrum of oncology care at 24 affiliated oncology clinics, including access to state-of-the-art technologies and new therapies being explored in hundreds of clinical cancer trials. The Cancer Institute has the only cancer program in the Pittsburgh region accredited as an Integrated Network Cancer Program by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, and its radiation oncology program is the largest in the country accredited by the American Society for Radiation Oncology. AHN Cancer Institute is a Quality Oncology Practice Initiative certified practice, and is accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy, National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers and the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer. AHN also has a formal affiliation with the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, one of the nation’s 41 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute, for research, medical education and clinical services.

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Stephanie Waite
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