WAUSAU – Increasing the survival rate of lung cancer depends on early diagnosis. To improve the chances of survival for lung cancer patients, Aspirus Health has developed a lung nodule clinic that combines early screening for at-risk patients with minimally invasive, robotic-assisted lung biopsies.

“It is important to diagnose whether lung nodules are cancerous as early as possible because it makes a significant difference in quality of life and survival rates of our patients,” said Dr. Bret Stysly, critical care and pulmonary medicine physician in a news release. “Lung nodules do not typically cause any symptoms and may go undetected, so it is important to have a screening process for at-risk patients.”

Aspirus Health’s new lung nodule clinic is at Aspirus Wausau Hospital and brings together a multidisciplinary team of thoracic surgeons, pulmonologists, radiologists, radiation and medical oncologists, and pathologists who collaborate to evaluate and treat all patients. The goal is to screen all patients who have a risk of developing lung cancer. If the lung screening indicates the presence of lung nodules, a personalized follow-up care plan is developed.

In October, Aspirus Health became just the second healthcare system in Wisconsin to perform robotic lung biopsies, according to Aspirus. Aspirus surgeons began using a platform called the Intuitive Ion to perform robotic-assisted bronchoscopy. The ultra-thin, flexible catheter in the Ion can be moved 180 degrees in all directions. It allows surgeons to navigate through very tight spots inside the lungs to collect nodule tissues that previously could not be reached.

For more information about the Aspirus Lung Nodule Clinic, visit aspirus.org/