Enhanced Imaging Equipment Improves Diagnosis

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LIFE — Lung Imaging Fluorescence Endoscopy

Using enhanced imaging equipment, doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the area's best lung cancer treatment centers, can detect lung cancers and pre-cancerous conditions earlier than ever before. Fox Chase is among a select group of lung cancer treatment centers in the country to offer this laser-based technology, known as LIFE, or lung imaging fluorescence endoscopy.

During its research phase, LIFE had outstanding results. To undergo the test, patients do not need to be injected with any drug or radioisotope (a radioactive material injected into the body so that a nuclear scanner can make an image). The technology allows doctors to identify lung cancers as small as 1 to 2 millimeters — cancer that cannot be detected through any other test or lung cancer screening method.

Early Detection of Lung Cancer is Crucial

Most people diagnosed with lung cancer are at high risk of recurrence (lung cancer coming back) and/or death. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the U.S. Only a small percentage of those diagnosed with lung cancer live to reach the 5-year survivorship mark.

Patients whose lung cancer is detected early enough can receive highly successful lung treatment at a cancer center like Fox Chase and have better survival rates. Unfortunately, a sign of early lung cancer cannot be detected through X-rays or other simple tests. Generally, symptoms do not appear until the lung cancer is advanced.

Proven Results

Michael Unger, MD, one of Fox Chase's leading pulmonologists, conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of LIFE. The results were dramatic, far exceeding the expected 20-30% improvement in lung cancer detection. Dr. Unger found that LIFE detected 171% more lung cancers, or pre-malignant lesions, at earlier stages than usual.

How LIFE Works

To view mucosal abnormalities or tumors in the trachea and bronchi, LIFE uses a fiberoptic endoscope with a blue laser light source to stimulate the natural fluorescence of tissue. Normal and abnormal tissues respond to this illumination differently, so LIFE images reveal minor abnormalities that would otherwise remain invisible. LIFE can detect early lung cancers or precancerous lesions as small as one millimeter across before they grow into invasive lung cancers.

By identifying such tiny lesions and determining the type of lung cancer more accurately, LIFE makes it easier to treat patients and greatly increases their chances for a cure. Through new therapies Dr. Unger has developed, patients who have early lung cancers may be cured with less invasive treatments than the current combinations of aggressive surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy for lung cancer. These include brachytherapy and various laser techniques such as photodynamic therapy.

Make an Appointment

Patients who need testing for lung cancer or who are already diagnosed lung cancer patients and awaiting surgery may benefit from precise diagnosis and more accurate staging with LIFE. For information or to arrange a consultation with Dr. Unger, call 215-728-5703.

For more information about lung cancer treatment and prevention at Fox Chase Cancer Center to make an appointment, call 215-214-3271.