Surgery for lung cancer
Lung surgery, or thoracotomy, is a procedure where the surgeon opens up the chest cavity to gain access to the lungs. An incision is made in the side of the chest and the ribs are spread apart, so your surgeon can remove cancerous tissue from the lungs.
There are four types of lung cancer surgery used at CTCA:
- Wedge resection and segmentectomy: Removal of cancerous tissue from the lung. In cases where more tissue is removed, the thoracotomy procedure is called a segmentectomy.
- Lobectomy: Removal of an entire lobe from the lung. The right lung has three lobes and the left lung has two.
- Pneumonectomy: Removal of an entire lung.
- Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS): VATS is a minimally invasive technology that our cancer doctors use to perform a lobectomy or wedge resection without opening up the chest. This thoracotomy procedure involves inserting a long, thin tube with an attached camera (thorascope) and small surgical instruments into the chest. Using images from the camera, the surgeon removes cancerous tissues. If you are a candidate for VATS, it offers a quicker recovery time and less pain than other types of lung surgery because no large incision or movement of the ribs is needed.
VATS may also be used to biopsy lung tissues and confirm a lung cancer diagnosis, called a thoracoscopy.
Learn more about lung cancer treatments
What is surgery?
Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures and will discuss appropriate surgical options that meet your individual needs.
Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and other medical comorbidities. For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant) or after surgery (adjuvant) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.
Early in the treatment planning process, we plan for and proactively manage any side effects from surgery. Our nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic clinicians are available to work with your surgical oncologist to support your healing and quality of life. Our reconstructive surgeons perform procedures to restore the body's appearance and function, often at the time of surgery or following surgery.