Patients with suspected lung cancer or tuberculosis will be able to get a quicker diagnosis at Kettering General Hospital after it received £160,000 in new equipment.
The hospital has launched a new procedure to help speed up the diagnosis of lung cancer – the third most common diagnosed cancer in England, but the one which accounts for the most deaths.
Last Tuesday, June 4, the hospital performed a landmark procedure when it completed its first endobronchial ultrasound guided biopsy using a £160,000 new ultrasonic bronchoscopy system.
A bronchoscope is a fibre-optic cable camera inside a flexible tube which goes down the throat to enable a doctor to look inside a patient's airways in the lungs.
Previously, Kettering hospital patients who needed the procedure would have to travel to Leicester, which increased the time it took to get results and a diagnosis.
Now 50 to 100 patients a year will be able to have the procedure at Kettering, reducing waits by up to ten days.
Dr Raja Reddy, the hospital’s clinical director for specialty medicine, said: “Bronchoscopes enable you to see pictures of the inside of the tubes leading to a person’s lungs.
“However, this is a new form of bronchoscope which has an ultrasound probe within it. The probe uses high-frequency sound waves, creating a picture of the outside of the airway walls – showing the position of the lymph nodes.
“Because we can see the lymph nodes we can then use the bronchoscope to perform a needle biopsy.
“The biopsy is then used to help us diagnose conditions such as lung cancer and serious infections like tuberculosis.”
The hospital's trust received funding to buy the equipment from the National Optimal Lung Cancer Pathway (NOLCP). The NOLCP sets out improved ways for patients to be treated, from referral to diagnosis, with the aim of reducing waiting times and reducing a so-called 'postcode lottery' of care across the country.
It is part of the National Cancer Strategy which aims to make significant progress in reducing preventable cancers, increasing survival, improving patient experience and enhancing quality of life by 2020.