Canadian Lung Association Blog

Cryo-biopsies – Cutting Edge Saskatchewan Research

When Corinna Taylor’s Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer, Corinna decided to raise funds for lung cancer research.   Her donation to the Lung Association of SK was an important part of developing the funding package that was necessary for the new equipment that Dr. Christopher Hergott , an Assistant Professor from the University of Saskatchewan, Respirology and Interventional Pulmonary Medicine, will be using in his research.

“It is our sincere honour to help obtain the equipment used to perfect this cutting edge biopsy technique,” says Corinna.  “This year marks our 6th Annual Spirit of Survival – Lung Cancer Fundraiser, in honour of Odette Myers, others fighting lung cancer and those who have lost the fight.  It is my belief that raising awareness and providing education are key elements in bringing lung cancer to the forefront and are central to our fundraising efforts.  We are pleased to direct the revenue from our fundraising campaigns to Dr. Hergott’s research as we feel that it is the best fit for lung cancer research and patient care.   At present our Spirit of Survival – Lung Cancer Fundraiser donations will support the pivotal research taking place in Saskatchewan.  It is with the help of many local businesses, local media, and a large number of the motorcycle community, as well as friends and family that have made each of our fundraising efforts successful,” she adds.

Patients with lung cancer require a biopsy of their lung to confirm a diagnosis of cancer so that the correct treatment can be started.  These biopsies are often completed during a bronchoscopy, a procedure whereby a small flexible scope is introduced through the mouth and into the lungs.  Most commonly, small biopsy forceps are used to take a piece of tissue for diagnosis.  These small biopsies are sometimes not large enough or of good enough quality for the pathologist to make a firm diagnosis of lung cancer.  If this happens then patients may require another biopsy or procedure to confirm a diagnosis.


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In cryo-biopsies, a small probe cooled to -90 degrees is inserted through a tiny tube during a bronchoscopy to freeze a tissue sample. There is emerging evidence that this be used to improve biopsy acquisition.  The benefit of this procedure is that tissue samples aren’t damaged by biopsy forceps and are thus of much better quality.  The purchase of a cryo-biopsy system allows the Division of Respirology to research this new way of obtaining lung biopsies for lung cancer patients.

Dr. Hergott hopes to study the use of this technique in other lung diseases such as interstitial lung disease (scarring and fibrosis of the lung) as well.  “If through research projects it can be shown that these biopsies are safe and provide better samples for the diagnosis of lung cancer and other lung diseases it may change how biopsies are taken in these situations.  This could have significant positive impact for patients in Saskatchewan and around the world,” said Dr. Hergott.  The Lung Association, through Corinna Taylor’s generous seed funding, as well as the RUH Foundation and the Maunders-McNeil Foundation have been instrumental in providing the funds required to pursue this important research.

Guest post: Dr. Chris Hergott, Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan


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