TriStar Summit
March 02, 2016

Each year more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers combined, and according to the American Cancer Society, Tennessee will have an estimated 6,200 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in 2015 resulting in 4,600 deaths.

TriStar Summit Medical Center, as part of its comprehensive lung cancer program with Sarah Cannon at TriStar Summit, now offers a minimally invasive procedure that may aid with earlier diagnosis for patients with lung lesions, so those with cancer can get treated as soon as possible and patients with benign conditions can potentially avoid surgery.

“Finding a spot on your lung is scary, but if found while the spot is still small is extremely beneficial,” says Dr. Toby Smith, a pulmonologist with TriStar Summit.

Research shows that most small lung spots turn out not to be cancer and could be an infection or scar tissue from a previous infection. However, physicians must take a tissue sample or biopsy in order to make an accurate diagnosis.

Even with today’s advances, many physicians still rely on traditional methods that can be limiting or assume greater risk to the patient. Traditional bronchoscopy is only effective in the upper portion of the lungs and areas close to main airways, while needle biopsies can cause a collapsed lung. Some patients even have to undergo traditional open surgery — which requires a large incision, broken ribs and a long recovery time — just to find out if the lesion is cancerous or not.

With the new Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy™ (ENB) procedures, which are performed with a device known as the superDimension™ navigation system with LungGPS™ technology, physicians can navigate and access difficult-to-reach areas of the lung from the inside.

“The superDimension navigation system, with GPS-like technology, is a significant advancement for aiding in the diagnosis of lung cancer and overcomes limitations of traditional diagnostic approaches,” said Smith. “By guiding us through the complicated web of pathways inside the lungs, we’re able to access and sample target tissue throughout the entire lung without surgery or a needle biopsy. This technology can aid with earlier diagnoses which may allow for less invasive treatments for patients with lung cancer.”

With the superDimension system, the CT scan images are used to create a roadmap of the thousands of tiny pathways inside the lungs. The LungGPS™ technology then provides a roadmap that allows physicians to guide tiny tools through the lung pathways so they can take tissue samples of the lesion and place markers. This technology prevents patients from undergoing multiple procedures.

Patients diagnosed with lung cancer have treatment options close to home through the Sarah Cannon at TriStar Summit lung cancer program including surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and access to clinical trials.

For more information about the superDimension navigation system and lung cancer program at TriStar Summit or a free physician referral, please call TriStar MedLine® at (615) 342-1919 or visit