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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Monday, May 8, 2023) – When it comes to cancer, early detection saves lives. Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) can now detect lung cancer earlier than ever using the organization’s newest robotic tool, the MONARCH™ Robotic Bronchoscopy Platform.

MONARCH Controller

Guiding MONARCH™ with a remote control that bears resemblance to a video game controller, physicians use the image-guided robot to perform minimally invasive bronchoscopy procedures to detect, biopsy, diagnose and mark lung cancer.

MONARCH™ helps physicians find small cancerous nodules in areas of the lungs that are harder to reach with traditional bronchoscopy. It sometimes takes physicians multiple procedures to locate cancerous tumors in the lungs, but MONARCH™ gives physicians a better chance of finding cancer through fewer procedures.

The first procedures at TMH using MONARCH™ began in April, with seven procedures scheduled during the team’s first three days of using the robot.

“We’re extremely excited about what this means for our patients,” said Carlos Campo, MD, pulmonologist and critical care physician at TMH. “Lung cancer is so deadly because there are often no symptoms during its earliest stages. MONARCH™ lowers the threshold of time it takes to find cancerous nodules and can potentially increase the five-year survival rate of patients in our region who have been diagnosed with lung cancer.”

The five-year relative survival rate of these patients is currently only 18%, largely because lung cancer often goes undetected until its later stages when it has already spread to other areas of the body, according to the American Lung Association. However, the survival rate is 56% when the cancer is detected before it has spread from the lungs.

That’s why physicians at TMH say it’s important for current and former smokers to speak with their primary care providers about their smoking history and follow lung cancer screening guidelines. Those between 50 and 77 years old who are current smokers or have quit in the last 15 years and have a tobacco history of at least 20 “pack years” – an average of one pack (20 cigarettes) per day for at least 20 years – meet the conditions for Medicare Part B lung cancer screening.

Needle Biopsy

One of the biggest benefits of robotic bronchoscopy is it’s a much more effective and efficient procedure for patients. Using MONARCH™ for bronchoscopy procedures, physicians achieve over 15% improvement in overall diagnostic yield, or the likelihood that a test or procedure will provide the information needed to establish a diagnosis, according to manufacturer Ethicon, Inc.

“The MONARCH™ Platform is unlike anything we’ve seen in our region,” said Alberto Fernandez, MD, pulmonologist and critical care physician at TMH. “Traditional bronchoscopy is performed as a physician holds both arms directly over the patient throughout the entire procedure, while trying to watch a monitor and maneuver the scope throughout the patient’s lungs. The ease of robotic bronchoscopy through MONARCH™ means a much more efficient and optimal procedure for both the patient and care team.”

Dr. Campo and Dr. Fernandez lead a monthly Thoracic Oncology Clinic at the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center, where they review lung cancer cases and collaborate with multiple specialists to develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient. MONARCH™ strengthens the quality of treatment TMH’s physicians can provide these patients.


“This is an enormous step in the quality of lung cancer care we’re able to provide patients throughout our region,” said Logan Van Wagenen, Assistant Vice President at TMH. “Patients with suspected lung cancer in Tallahassee, and even extending toward Jacksonville, Pensacola and into South Georgia, now have more access than ever to a state-of-the-art robotic system only available at select facilities across the country.”

The MONARCH™ robot is the latest high-tech tool acquired by TMH and the nationally accredited Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center. In 2022, the Cancer Center underwent renovations to expand the number of patients it sees, and earlier this year, upgraded the first of three planned state-of-the-art linear accelerators to treat patients using radiation therapy.

Learn more about lung and thoracic cancer treatment at TMH by visiting TMH.ORG/LungCancer.

About Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare

Founded in 1948, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) is a private, nonprofit community healthcare system committed to transforming care, advancing health, and improving lives with an ultimate vision to elevate the standards of healthcare practice, quality and innovation in the region. Serving a 21-county area in North Florida and South Georgia, TMH is comprised of a 772-bed acute care hospital, a surgery and adult ICU center, a psychiatric hospital, multiple specialty care centers, three residency programs, 38 affiliated physician practices and partnerships with Alliant Management Services, Apalachee Center, Calhoun Liberty Hospital, Capital Health Plan, Doctors’ Memorial Hospital, Florida State University College of Medicine, Radiology Associates, Weems Memorial Hospital and Wolfson Children’s Hospital. For more information, visit TMH.ORG.

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