Raymond Hager of Lehigh Acres says he gives Dr. Alaa El-Gendy credit for saving his life.
"Without his help and using new technology on me, I may have died from lung cancer. I owe him my life," he said.
Dr. Alaa El-Gendy, a prominent Lehigh specialist physician, operates Florida Lung & Sleep Associates on Lee Blvd., next to the Lehigh Walmart.
He is the first physician in Lee County to perform an Electromagnetic Navigational Bronchoscopy to detect lung cancer long before previous attempts to detect the disease, including invasive surgery.
Hager, 68, had a spot in his right lung and El-Gendy said he was able to use a steerable catheter through the nose and throat down into the lung to locate a small tumor about two centimeters wide. The procedure doesn't require general anesthesia, he said.
The procedure is known as a Bronchoscopy and with the software, El-Gendy was able to see deep in into the lung on his computers. He said El-Gendy felt that the tumor was cancerous. In the course of doing the procedure, El-Gendy was able to "seed" the exact spot, a term for marking the spot on the computer image, so surgeons knew exactly where to go to locate the tumor, which in Hager's case was removed, along with a small part of his right lung. And Hager says he is cancer-free, but will do follow ups with El-Gendy to make sure cancer doesn't return. More hardware has arrived that works in conjunction with the procedure used on Hager.
El-Gendy said he performed the first new procedure often referred to as ENB in Lee County on July 19. It is a new technology that uses GPS-like features to locate and biopsy lesions that are deep in the lung.
ENB provides the ability to detect lung disease and lung cancer earlier, even before symptoms are evident, enhancing treatment options for patients, El-Gendy said.
The procedure also minimizes the need for more invasive, surgical procedures to access lung lesions in the distant regions of the lung.
"These procedures may require an inpatient hospital stay or cause complications such as a collapsed lung, called pneumothorax.
El-Gendy said lung cancer is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S. In 1987, it surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
El-Gendy knows what lung cancer did to his late wife.
"She was not a smoker and it could have been genetic, but we lost Safaa, who was 44, in 2006," he said.
He said the lung disease known as Adenocarcinoma is on the rise with non-smokers and especially females.
Lung cancer causes more deaths than the next three most common cancers combined (colon, breast and prostate).
"Early detection of lung cancer is crucial for improving survival of this disease, El-Gendy said.
He went on to say an estimated 160,340 Americans were expected to die from lung cancer this year, accounting for approximately 28 percent of all cancer deaths. And he said the five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 52.6 percent for cases detected when the disease is still localized within the lungs. However, only 15 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage.
"That means only 15 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage, and for distant tumors - spread to other organs - the five-year survival rate is only 3.5 percent.
With those facts in mind, El-Gendy says individuals who are at high risk for lung cancer should be examined and evaluated by an experienced pulmonologist.
Who may be at risk?
El-Gendy said all current or former smokers, with a smoking history of 30 years, and in the age group of 55 to 74 should be screened. El-Gendy also said that the risk of lung cancer may be higher if a person's parents, brothers and sisters or children have had lung cancer. But that is not the only risk. He said other factors that can increase your risk include exposure to asbestos, arsenic, diesel exhaust, some forms of silica, chromium, and radon in the home.
The new technology that El-Gendy is using is offered in collaboration with 21st Century Oncology at the Lee Memorial Outpatient Surgical Center located in the Sanctuary building.
El-Gendy's is the leading independent community provider of pulmonary and sleep services in Lee County since 2002. Florida Lung & Sleep Associates is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP).
Those who are interested in more information may contact El-Gendy at 239-369-3333.
"But early diagnosis is the key factor and those at risk would be wise to seek medical help as soon as possible," he said.