Cancer Survivor Benefits from New Technology

As a U.S. veteran and two-time cancer survivor, Lancaster resident James Massey doesn’t back down from a challenge.

So when a suspicious mass in his lung appeared on a CT scan and chest X-ray earlier this year, he decided to take the situation head-on rather than panic.

“I asked my doctor what his prognosis was for this being cancer, and he said, 50-60 percent,” James, 83, said. “It didn’t surprise me. I thought, ‘What’s one more cancer’?”

His wife, Betty Massey, had a different reaction. “When the doctor said, ‘I wish I had better news,’ my stomach turned over,” she said.

Cancer MasseyThe Masseys’ primary care physician sent James to Fairfield Medical Center pulmonologist Jarrod Bruce, M.D., for testing to determine if the mass was cancer. Dr. Bruce recommended James undergo a new procedure called an electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy (ENB), which allows pulmonologists to better locate and test small, hard-to-reach abnormalities in the lungs called nodules.

“Compared to a more traditional needle biopsy, a main benefit of ENB is a decreased risk of pneumothorax, a complication more commonly referred to as a collapsed lung,” Dr. Bruce said.

The ENB helps physicians navigate through a patient’s airways, creating almost a virtual roadmap of the lungs. The technology was new to the Masseys, but not to James’ daughter, Cindy.

“Cindy, who is an operating room technician in Indiana, knew the ENB was the most recent, up-and-coming test provided for this type of thing,” Betty said.

When the Masseys told Dr. Bruce that Cindy would like to talk with him about the ENB, he called her himself. Dr. Bruce said it’s sometimes challenging for patients to relay the information they have heard from their doctor to a concerned family member.

“The entire family is important to help the patient through this process,” he said. “That is why I want them involved from the beginning.”

Less than a week after the ENB procedure, Dr. Bruce shared the good news with James: He did not have cancer.

“I had already logged it into my mind at that point that I had cancer and there was nothing I could do about it,” James said. “It was a relief to find out it was not cancer.”

Tags: Cancer, pulmonologist, Jarrod Bruce M.D.,