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Surgery Using Small High-Def Video Camera Helps Lung Cancer


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Surgery Using Small High-Def Video Camera Helps Lung Cancer Patients

17,000 Diagnosed With Lung Cancer In Florida In 2008

POSTED: 1:57 pm EST December 9, 2008

UPDATED: 12:57 pm EST

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A relatively new surgery that does not utilize an open incision is helping lung cancer patients.

The procedure is called video assisted thoracic surgery, or VATS, and has been performed on 75 Central Floridians over the last two years.

There have been 102,000 new cases of cancer in Florida in 2008, including 17,000 lung cancer patients.

"It is tremendous surgery. It has done me well, so I can't praise it enough," said Jim Gerard, who had never smoked but still contracted lung cancer.

He said he was diagnosed when he felt a pain on his right side.

"I never felt bad. I was still able to work out effectively, climb stairs, do a little cardio, stuff like that. I never knew that I was ill," Gerard said.

Doctors ordered a CAT scan and a MRI and found a small tumor on his left lung.

"This is the spine, and this is the tumor," said Dr. Luis Herrera of M.D. Anderson Orlando, who introduced Gerard to VATS. "It is a method of doing surgery in the chest without using a traditional open incision."

VATS is performed with three incisions that are less than an inch long. A small high-definition video camera is placed in one of the three incisions and surgical instruments are placed in the other two.

"It is like he is playing a video game, which I thought was really neat," Gerard said.

"This surgery is best suited for patients who have early stage lung cancer, meaning that the lung cancer is localized to the lung and it is not larger than 3 to 4 inches in size," Herrera said.

The biggest benefits of VATS are less pain and a faster recovery.

Gerard said he feels good a year after the lower lobe of his lung was removed.

"I think I am doing pretty well. I can go up four flights of stairs -- I wheeze a little bit -- but I am still able to do it without too much problem," Gerard said.

"You will notice a little bit more work of breathing doing those strenuous activities the more you do. The remainder of the lung will compensate and start to accommodate all that exercise," Herrera said.

Gerard had a recent checkup, and his doctor said he's doing well.

Gerard, who has been married for 55 years, said he works and exercises regularly.

For more information about VATS, call 321-8HEALTH or visit the American Cancer Society.


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