Surgeon

UPMC Passavant–McCandless is the first hospital in the Pittsburgh area to use the Monarch™ robotic bronchoscopy system — an exciting new device that enables doctors to navigate deep inside the lungs for earlier, more precise detection of cancer.

With robotic bronchoscopy, doctors can more easily maneuver into the lung’s tiniest passages to inspect suspicious lesions and collect tissue samples to determine whether they are cancerous or benign. “As a surgeon, I’m excited to have this tool in my hand,” says Ryan Levy, MD, chief of thoracic surgery at UPMC Passavant. “It takes us to a whole new level of cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

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Early Detection is Vital

According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is by far the deadliest form of cancer for both men and women. More than half of all lung cancer patients die within a year of being diagnosed. But when it is detected early — especially before it has a chance to spread beyond the lungs — the five-year survival rate rises from 5% to 56%. “Early diagnosis is key,” says Dr. Levy. “When lung cancer is detected at an earlier stage, we’re able to offer patients better treatment options.”

An Innovative Design

The Monarch™ design uses a minimally invasive endoscope to view deep inside the lungs. The technology combines the latest advancements in robotics, software, and data science with endoscopy, which uses small cameras and tools to enter the body through the patient’s mouth.

Robotic bronchoscopy provides a continuous, extraordinarily detailed 3D view of the lungs’ airway passages. “Before this new innovation, we couldn’t reach the farthest branches of the lungs reliably to biopsy a nodule. We had to rely on the computer to tell us where to go and make a best guess about the location of the lesion when doing biopsies,” says Peter Kochupura, MD, a pulmonologist at UPMC Passavant.

With robotic technology, the doctor can use a controller to direct the probe, see exactly where it is going, and identify the best spots to take biopsy samples. “With the robot, we can go in as far as we need to look directly at the lesion. We can rotate the tool to look at lesions from every angle,” he says. “It goes exactly where we want it to go and doesn’t move until we tell it to do so. It’s remarkable.”

Poised for the Future

Dr. Levy believes this technology will continue to evolve. “This isn’t just another diagnostic tool — it’s a tremendous advancement in terms of accuracy, early detection, and diagnosis,” says Dr. Levy. “The technology has the potential to revolutionize treatment as well.”

Dr. Levy feels UPMC Passavant is well-poised for the future. “As the first health care provider in Pittsburgh to have the robotic bronchoscopy technology, we are well-positioned to lead. We’re looking forward to using other cutting-edge technologies to treat our patients.”

Trusted Cancer Care, Close to Home

One in three Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. If you or a loved one is among them, you’ll receive the latest advances in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC Passavant–McCandless, with the added benefit of convenient access and trusted care right in the North Hills.

The UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC Passavant offers specialized care with expertise in breast, lung, esophageal, upper gastrointestinal, pancreatic, colorectal, and liver cancers.

Patients have access to high-end diagnostic tools like the new robotic bronchoscopy system described in this article — as well as state-of-the art treatment technologies that range from 4D respiratory gated imaging and gated intensity-modulated radiation therapies to the latest immunotherapy advances.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is the region’s only comprehensive cancer center as designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and is one of the largest integrated cancer centers in the United States.

* Monarch™ is a trademark of Auris Health, Inc.

About UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

The UPMC Hillman Cancer Center provides world-class cancer care, from diagnosis to treatment, to help you in your cancer battle. We are the only comprehensive cancer center in our region, as designated by the National Cancer Institute. We have more than 60 locations throughout western Pennsylvania and Ohio, with more than 200 oncologists. Our internationally renowned research team is striving to find new advances in prevention, detection, and treatment.