New Robot Helps Orlando Health Doctors Diagnose Lung Cancer Earlier Without Incisions


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Few things are as nerve wracking as learning you have a spot on your lung. Your thoughts run wild with the question anyone would ask: Is it cancer?

Lung spots can be caused by many things that range from smoking to scar tissue to old infections. Fortunately, not all lung spots are cancerous. But the only way to know for sure is to get a biopsy — a procedure where the doctor removes a tiny piece of the lung spot tissue and has it tested. 

Doctors at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center are using the Monarch™ Platform, an FDA-cleared robot, to test lung spots, make earlier diagnoses and begin treatments sooner — without surgical incisions.

The cancer center is the first in the southeastern United States — and among the first in the nation — to use the Monarch Platform™.

“Lung cancer often goes unnoticed in its early stages so there is an unmet need to diagnose this disease much earlier in our patients,” says Dr. Mark Vollenweider, section chief for pulmonary medicine at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center. “With the Monarch™ Platform, we have the ability to see and access parts of the lungs that were previously out of reach, speeding up diagnosis and potentially improving survival rates.”

The Monarch robot is controlled by the doctor and uses a thin tube, called a bronchoscope, to travel through your mouth and into your lungs while you’re asleep. It uses tiny cameras and a navigation system (like a car’s GPS) to locate the lung spot. Once the robot arrives at the lung spot, the doctor takes the biopsy and sends it to the lab for testing. 

Performed as an outpatient procedure, the process takes from 30 to 90 minutes. Because no incisions are made, safety is enhanced and side-effect risks are reduced.  

New advances, like the Monarch™ Platform makes it possible to diagnose or rule-out lung cancer while making biopsies less invasive than ever before.

More than 90 percent of patients diagnosed with lung cancer do not survive because the disease does not show symptoms early. According to the National Cancer Institute, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. More patients die every year from the disease than from prostate, breast and colon cancers combined. 

For information about lung cancer diagnostic testing with the Monarch Platform, contact the Rod Taylor Thoracic Care Center at (407) 648-5384 or visit the Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center site here.