Pioneering lung cancer diagnosis at Royal Preston Hospital

Posted on - 8th June, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Fulwood, Health, Preston News, Proud Preston, Sharoe Green
The LungVision bronchoscopic system in action Pic: Lancashire Teaching Hospitals/Rosemere Cancer Foundation

The Royal Preston has become the first hospital in the UK to operate a new machine which enables earlier diagnosis of – and more targeted treatment for – lung cancer.

The kit will be used to assess patients from right across Lancashire and South Cumbria for what is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK.

Known as the LungVision Bronchoscopic Navigation System, it will also increase the accuracy of a lung cancer diagnosis from the current rate of just 50 percent to around 85 percent.

Read more: Channel 5 documentary to return to Royal Preston Hospital after award nomination

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals’ (LTH) respiratory consultant Professor Mohammed Munavvar told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that there are multiple life-saving – and life-enhancing – benefits to the sat-nav-like new technology.

“It will allow us to get all the necessary information confirming it’s cancer and what type it is and what subtype.

“Secondly, it allows us to plan targeted, personalised treatment. Every patient’s cancer can be different with regard to mutations – when you target treatment, you give more specific treatment, as well as reducing the chances of side effects.

“Another huge advantage is that the most distressing thing for suspected cancer patients is that they need to undergo multiple procedures before we get all the confirmation and all the necessary information. And multiple procedures means considerable and inordinate delays in the diagnosis.

“We don’t want our patients to be going through the distress, as they are being told that they have suspected cancer, [of having] to wait weeks to get an accurate diagnosis before they start treatment.

“So here we would be trying to do a one-stop approach where we do all these procedures together, early on, and get an accurate diagnosis,” Professor Munavvar explained.

Read more: Unannounced visit to Royal Preston made by Care Quality Commission

He hopes that the equipment – whose £237,000 cost was covered by the LTH-based Rosemere Cancer Foundation charity – will revolutionise lung cancer treatment and diagnosis. It will now be used to see between two and four patients a week, with the procedure – which takes approximately an hour – hopefully leading to an accurate diagnosis within a few days.

“Thirty-five thousand people, at least, die from lung cancer every year in the UK – and every four minutes or so, somebody is getting diagnosed with [it].

“The biggest challenge is that survival rates are very poor. Most people with advanced-stage disease when they are diagnosed, the chances of [them] surviving five years is around five percent.

“Besides smoking cessation, which is very important, the only other way to make a real massive change, a paradigm shift, in survival is to make the diagnosis early – because if you catch it really early, with small lesions, small spots inside the lung, then you push up the chances of survival massively; it goes up to 55 percent plus.

“LungVision basically reconstructs 3D images from a CT scan the patient has had and brings it to the operating room – and it allows us to visualise the 3D image without the need for an intraoperative CT scan.

“The lung itself is a very complex structure. Just imagine that there are 15 or 16 branches of a tree and each dividing several times themselves. When you go to the smaller branches, called terminal bronchioles, you have thousands of them, so it’s very easy to get lost.”

Professor Munavvar also paid tribute to Rosemere and its supporters for enabling the Royal Preston to be the first hospital site in the UK to use the new technology, which has been available in Italy – the only other place it has been rolled out in Europe – for just over a year.

“Why is it that I’ve been able to get this for our patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria? It’s only because of Rosemere. I saw this [new technology] and I went to Rosemere, requested [their help] and [after] a stringent process, they approved it.

“So many thanks to the volunteers and donors who donate so much money from our community.”

Read more: New hospital to replace Royal Preston ‘highly likely to be in South Ribble’

Dan Hill, head of charities at LTH, said: “Our aim has always been to ensure cancer patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria have access to truly world-class diagnosis and treatment and through the ambition of colleagues such as Professor Munavvar and the loyalty and generosity of our supporters, we are achieving that.

“Already this year, Rosemere Cancer Foundation has provided the funding for Rosemere Cancer Centre at the Royal Preston Hospital to become the UK’s biggest single site Surface Guided Radiotherapy Treatment (SGRT) Centre to provide tattoo-free, enhanced radiotherapy treatment. Now we can claim a UK and almost a European first in delivering LungVision.”

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