April 29, 2022

Detecting lung cancer earlier

Northern Health’s Endobronchial Ultrasound Service (EBUS) is helping to detect, diagnose and stage lung cancer at a quicker rate.

The service, which launched four weeks ago, is a type of advanced bronchoscopy and uses two different types of scopes to diagnose and stage lung cancer. Funds for the service were successfully raised by Northern Health Foundation.

Kanishka Rangamuwa, Respiratory Physician and EBUS Lead, said the service would provide northern patients better access to localised care and treatment for lung cancer.

“One of the advantages is that we can stage and diagnose at the same time. Most of these patients have been going to alternative health services, so patients now have easier access to this service. This means we can turnaround our patients much faster which is really important given lung cancer is a fairly aggressive form of cancer,” he said.

“It also improves our ability in staging the cancer so we can give them the appropriate type of treatment. There are differences in the type of treatment you get depending on what stage the cancer is at.”

“Majority of people, their prognosis of lung cancer treatment changes depending on when it is diagnosed. If you are diagnosed with early stage lung cancer, where you can go on to have surgical treatment, your outcomes are far better. But there is still about a 30 to 40 per cent chance of reoccurrence in five years.”

“If you have advanced stage lung cancer, where it has spread to the other side of the chest or elsewhere in the body, your average survival rate is 12 to 18 months, which is why it is so important to catch it earlier and EBUS will help do this.”

Between 15 and 20 patients have undergone EBUS since the service launched. EBUS lists are performed twice a week with about three patients per list. There are plans to build each list up to five patients.

“For our staff, it is nice to have access to the procedure as we are getting faster turnarounds. We saw patients two weeks ago, they had their procedure last week and they had their results this week. In the past, it would take longer,” Kanishka said.

“The feedback we have had from our patients has also been very positive.”

Katharine See, Head of Respiratory Medicine, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, worked for almost five years to bring the service to life.

“It’s great to see it all up and running. It is an excellent service. Katharine has done a lot of work to get this up and running, it’s a real testament to her hard work,” Kanishka said.

“We are really grateful for the Northern Health Foundation and the funding they provided for this service. It’ll make a huge different to the northern suburbs, improving the management of respiratory diseases, like lung cancer.”

John Molnar OAM, Chair of Northern Health Foundation, said, “We are pleased to see the EBUS has been commissioned and is making a real difference in the detection and treatment of lung cancer. The northern community will benefit significantly from this service, and the Foundation is pleased to have provided funding for it. I am extremely grateful to our donors and supporters who contributed to this campaign.”

Featured image: Jack Henderson, Respiratory Registrar, Kanishka Rangamuwa, Respiratory Physician and EBUS Lead and Bassem Dawood, Respiratory Physician.