Peace of mind with robotic surgery

Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. In the early stages of lung cancer, patients may not always experience severe symptoms that would cause them to seek treatment. This was the case for Gretta C.

Patient story - Gretta

“For several years, my family complained that I was a heavy breather,” explains Gretta. “I honestly didn’t think too much about it.”

Gretta has a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. This alone could explain her heavy breathing. She also smoked for 50 years, but quit in 2002, which means she doesn’t fall into the high-risk category for regular lung cancer screenings. But given her family’s concern, she mentioned this issue to her primary care doctor, and it was recommended that she get a chest X-ray. The X-ray showed a spot on her upper left lung.

Gretta was referred to a pulmonologist for additional testing. A small nodule was discovered and that’s when she was referred to Richard Gillespie, MD, a thoracic surgeon at HonorHealth Heart Care - Heart and Lung Surgery, for a biopsy of the lung.

An accurate and less invasive biopsy

Gretta met Dr. Gillespie for the first time the day of her biopsy procedure. He completed the biopsy using a robotic-assisted bronchoscopy. HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center was the first hospital in Arizona to perform this minimally invasive procedure.

The biopsy revealed adenocarcinoma, a type of non-small cell lung cancer. The next steps were to assess the stage of the cancer, determine if it had spread, evaluate her lungs and Gretta’s overall health.

“After several tests and evaluations, we determined Gretta had stage I cancer. Based on the stage of her cancer, the next step was to remove the tumor and some lymph nodes by performing minimally invasive robotic surgery,” says Dr. Gillespie.

Robotic surgery is a less invasive or minimally invasive approach to surgery. It allows for a faster healing time for patients after surgery, quicker discharge from the hospital, and it also lessens the amount of time it takes to complete the surgery and the amount of anesthesia given to patients.

“The technology was fascinating,” shares Gretta. “The fact that this could all be done robotically and allow for a smaller incision instead of one large cut, gave me peace of mind. Dr. Gillespie did an amazing job removing the nodule and taking a handful of lymph nodes.”

HonorHealth performs revolutionary lung biopsy procedure - first in AZ to do it

On the road to recovery

The tumor ended up being 2.5 centimeters, and the lymph nodes showed no signs of cancer, which confirmed her stage IA diagnosis. With these results, Gretta would not have to do any radiation or go through chemotherapy.

“My overall experience was very positive,” Gretta shares. “From being first diagnosed to being treated and having the nodule removed took only about two months.”

All of Gretta’s follow-up tests have been positive to this point with no sign of the nodule returning. Dr. Gillespie will continue to monitor her progress to ensure the cancer doesn’t come back.

Care that’s made with you in mind

HonorHealth offers in-depth diagnosis and treatment services for thoracic diseases, including lung, esophageal and chest disorders. Our team – which includes specialists in thoracic and cardiothoracic surgery – will work with you and your extended care team to determine the best treatment for your condition.

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