BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Cases of lung cancer are up across the South and especially in Alabama, according to Ascension St. Vincent’s. But with new advanced technology, these patients may find a cure.

It’s surgery by robot.

Dr. Parvez Sultan, a cardiothoracic surgeon and the chief of cardiac surgery at Ascension St. Vincent’s Birmingham, has no doubt the hospital system’s robot-assisted surgery is saving lives.

“We are treating now very early-stage lung cancer that leads to cure,” Sultan said.

It’s called the da Vinci Xi robot, and it’s only being used in a handful of hospitals around the country.

“It will help us isolate the blood vessel properly, take the tumors out, take smaller lesions out, so that we don’t take bigger chunks of lung out,” Sultan said.

The technology helps doctors find and pinpoint cancerous lesions in the early stages. During surgery, the robot with a camera inside mirrors the surgeon’s movements to remove them, even in hard-to-reach areas. Sultan explained it’s highly accurate and highly successful.

“All minimally invasive, small incision,” Sultan said. “It’s easier on the patients. They go home early. They lose less blood. Even elderly people tolerate this procedure very well into their 80s.”

The surgeon pointed out he’s seen cases of lung cancer go up concerningly in Birmingham lately including among young people and even non-smokers. He attributes the trend to multiple factors including pollution, increased health awareness after the pandemic and namely vaping.

The hospital is expecting to implement even more advanced technology in the next few months.