Sanford introduces better way to diagnose, treat lung cancer

Sanford Health is first in South Dakota to add Monarch Platform technology

A screen on the Monarch Platform shows a lung procedure while a doctor in surgical scrubs watches with back turned to the camera.

The Monarch Platform is a “game-changer” in the words of Dr. Paul Berger III, a pulmonary critical care and neurocritical care physician with Sanford Pulmonary Medicine Clinic.

Sanford Health is the first health system in South Dakota to be able to offer the Monarch Platform to patients.

Essentially, the Monarch represents new robotic technology that improves doctors’ ability to diagnose lung cancer and other lung diseases.

It is an update in the use of endoscopy — that is, the use of small cameras and tools that enter the body through natural openings — that allows for improved vision, improved reach and improved control within the lungs. It does this while being minimally invasive to the patient.

“This will allow us to provide our patients with enhanced early diagnosis of a lung cancer or any lung pathology,” Dr. Berger said.

Earlier treatments, better results

Early diagnosis can be a huge factor in treating lung cancer, which is by far the leading cause of cancer death among men and women. Later-stage discovery can limit treatment options that might be available.

Find a provider: Cancer care at Sanford Health

“Hopefully now we’re going to be able to shift that diagnostic paradigm to the point where we can provide patients earlier treatments and therapies,” Dr. Berger said. “We would improve their five-year mortality outcome.”

By having access to this level of treatment, Sanford Health will be taking a step forward in tackling a particularly difficult form of cancer. Early-stage patients often have no symptoms, so when it is diagnosed it is often at an advanced stage.

The 18.6% lung cancer five-year survival rate is lower than many other leading cancer sites, such as colorectal cancer (64.5%), breast cancer (89.6%) and prostate cancer (98.2%).

More well-being for lung cancer patients

“The foremost issue is providing a means of treatment so that patients can have a longer, more enhanced quality of life with a lung cancer diagnosis,” Dr. Berger said. “And beyond that, this allows us to be able to diagnose patients with other lung pathologies, too, like infections, vascular diseases and immune diseases that we would otherwise not be able to make a diagnosis on until later in the time frame.”

Bringing the Monarch Platform to Sanford Health was a collaborative effort. It involved cooperation from administrators and clinicians and it came together quickly, according to Dr. Berger, when the technology became available.

“We had been looking for the ability to provide our patients with improved access to care and diagnostics,” Dr. Berger said. “And this was the top of the line. The cream of the crop. This will put not only Sanford Pulmonary but also Sanford Health at the forefront of lung cancer diagnostics and therapeutics.”

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Posted In Cancer, Cancer Treatments, Company News, Pulmonology, Sioux Falls