NEW equipment at a local hospital aims to give faster and more accurate lung cancer diagnosis.
Patients can now have an endobroncial ultrasound test for the first time in the county at Wansbeck General Hospital.
The test involves patients having a sensitive camera fed deep into the lung which detects lymph nodes as well as tumours outside the lung wall to determine what stage the cancer is at.
The 30-minute procedure means a quicker and safer services, eliminating the need for general anaesthetic.
Previously, the nearest centre offering the service was at Stockton on Teesside.
Equipment has been provided with a £100,000 grant from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s charitable funds.
Consultant respiratory physician Mark Weatherhead is confident the new service will benefit cancer patients in Northumberland and further afield.
He said: “The respiratory team is delighted to be able to offer this specialist service.
“The benefits of it were highlighted when we had a patient who was able to have her ultrasound test the day after her consultation with me.
“This quick diagnosis meant her treatment was able to be started earlier.
“Formerly patients may have had to have a general anaesthetic and carry the risk of a surgical procedure.
“Endobronchial ultrasound allows us to see small nodes and take tissue samples where necessary and means patients can come in, have the procedure and go home later the same day.
“This is an exciting development in the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer which will help us to ensure we are providing patients with the treatment best tailored to their cancer.”