Creating a team of lung cancer experts is important in your lung cancer journey. Understanding the benefits of surgery for lung cancer and the recovery process, and when it’s appropriate, is important. A thoracic surgeon may be part of the team of thoracic oncologist, nurse practitioners, radiologists, respiratory therapists, palliative care staff, physical therapists, and nurses – all key to delivering your best treatment.
Types of Treatment
Lung cancer treatment is changing, thanks to breakthroughs and early detection. However, surgery might be an option for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). It typically provides the best chance to cure the disease at this stage. The type of operation your doctor recommends depends on the size and location of the tumor in addition to how well your lungs are functioning.
A Thoracic Surgeon will perform the surgery that involves the removal of lung tumors. Depending on the size and location of the lung tumor, the surgeon may recommend minimally invasive surgery or traditional open surgery.
Surgery is rarely used as part of the main treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC), as the cancer has usually already spread by the time it is found.
Sleeve resection: Some cancers form in the large airways in the lungs. In a sleeve resection, the thoracic surgeon cuts across the airway above and below the tumor. Then the surgeon reconnects the clean airway sections together. This operation may be chosen instead of a pneumonectomy to preserve more lung function.
Segmentectomy or wedge resection surgery is when only part of a lobe is removed. If a person doesn’t have adequate lung function to withstand removing the whole lobe, this procedure is preferred.
A bilobectomy is the removal of two lobes of the right lung – the upper and middle lobes or the middle and lower lobes.
Lobectomy is the removal of the entire lobe containing the tumor(s). This form of surgery is often the preferred type of operation for NSCLC. The lungs are made up of 5 lobes – 3 on the right and 2 on the left.
Pneumonectomy is the removal of an entire lung. This procedure is used if the cancer cannot be fully removed with the lobectomy or if the tumor is close to the center of the chest
Patients who have surgery for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) typically receive chemotherapy after surgery. This treatment approach has been shown to improve cure rates compared with surgery alone.
For more advanced tumors, surgery may also be used in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, surgery may not be preferred in all early stage lung cancers. Your oncologist will be the best person to determine your personalized treatment.