The number of people who die from lung cancer in Winnebago County is higher than the national average.
Rockford Memorial Hospital is trying to change that statistic.
A cancer diagnosis is not only scary, the treatment process can be long and confusing. That's why Rockford Memorial Hospital is trying to use some innovative technology to combat the disease and use a team approach that will hopefully make the process a little less stressful for patients.
"The idea is if we capture cancers early on, then we can impact and actually reduce the cost of care. As cancer presents itself at a later stage the cost of care can actually be more substantial than not," said Dr. Srinivas Kolla.
One way the hospital is trying to catch cancer earlier is by providing annual CT scan lung screenings to people who are at a high risk of developing the disease.
The hospital is also using navigational bronchoscopy, also called a GPS system for the lungs which allows pulmonologists to find tumors and then diagnose them.
Something else they are using is called a DaVinci robotic surgery system.
"The robot is a device that allows us to perform surgeries that we typically did with big incisions through tiny incisions. The goal is to use that device to do surgeries with smaller incisions causing less pain and shorter hospital stays," said Kolla.
But there's a personal touch in all this technology and it's called a lung program nurse navigator. A person who will help guide patients through what's often a stressful treatment process.
"Number one, it's an overwhelming situation for the patient. A patient needs to be educated. They need to be educated not just about the disease but also about the treatment options. They need some level of comfort in having someone who can walk them through the entire process," said Dr. Bharati Roy.
A recent study found lung cancer kills 45 out of every 100,000 residents in Winnebago County compared to 42 deaths per 100,000 residents nationally.