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 Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (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