Deaths from lung cancer are higher than for any other form of cancer, with more than 8,000 Australians diagnosed each year - but the latest technology being demonstrated at The University of Western Australia offers new hope to sufferers.

Respiratory physicians from around Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore will learn about the most recent approaches to diagnosing and evaluating lung cancer at a three-day training session at UWA's Clinical Training and Education Centre (CTEC) which ends tomorrow (Friday).

World expert and pioneer in this field, Professor Felix Herth of Heidelberg, Germany, is conducting the session, giving physicians the opportunity to practise endoscopic ultrasound bronchoscopy.  This allows them to accurately sample tissue within the lung, improving the evaluation of lung cancer and promoting the best outcomes.

Optimum outcomes depend upon an accurate evaluation of the extent of the tumour, so that the appropriate treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, can be given.

The endobronchial ultrasound technique (EBUS) is conducted using a flexible telescope into which is incorporated an ultrasound probe.  This is passed down into the air passages of the lung.  The ultrasound component allows the physician to see through the walls of the airways into the tissue beyond, allowing tissue sampling while avoiding large blood vessels.

Current methods for diagnosis and evaluation are either more invasive or not as accurate as the new EBUS technique.  Endobronchial ultrasound gives us more information more safely so that we can offer patients the best treatment program to increase their survival chances, said Professor Herth.

The consultant-level training course also covers other techniques such as laser treatment of airway tumours, stenting of narrowed airways and minimally invasive surgical treatments of some forms of emphysema.

The course is supported by the Raine Medical Research Foundation, The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, Olympus, Storz, Cook, N Stenning, EndoCorp, Wolf, Boston Scientific, Medical Vision Australia, RocketMedical and Medtel.