Moves in Medicine: Checking the Lungs with the Monarch Platform

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A woman who lost her husband to lung cancer undergoes a groundbreaking procedure to protect herself from the same disease.

When Joyce Vrbicek's husband was battling stage five lung cancer, she made a promise to him.

"I would do every preventative test that I could because he didn't want me to leave my daughter," she said.

As a smoker for more than 40 years, Vrbicek was understandably concerned when she went for a CAT scan.

"I did the test and it showed that I had all these little nodules," she said.

"Most of these are benign but some of them are cancerous and could become cancerous," explained Dr. Rohit Kumar who is an associate professor of pulmonary medicine at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

So further testing was needed. Fortunately, Fox Chase is leading the country as one of the first hospitals using a groundbreaking new robotic bronchoscopy called the Monarch Platform.

"Small nodules are hard to get to because they're in deeper portions of the lungs and there's no easy way to access them," said Dr. Kumar.

The Monarch gives doctors unprecedented access to the furthest reaches of the lungs.

"With this new technology we're able to move a camera out into the periphery of the lung, so we can actually see what we are doing for the first time," explained Dr. Christopher Manley, the director of interventional pulmonology.

For Vrbicek that meant diagnosing her nodules at an early stage.

"He found several carcinoid tumors, which are blood tumors, and they are cancerous. But they're dormant right now. They're not active," she said.

"The good thing about Joyce's case is that the carcinoid tumors are usually much slower growing than primary lung cancer. These carcinoid tumors will be watched very closely. If they show signs of significant growth they can either be surgically resected or she can receive radiation," said Dr. Manley.

"Dr. Manley has given me everything that I need to know that I'm okay," said Vrbicek.
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