“Not all lung cancer surgeries are the same,” says McLeod Thoracic Surgeon Wayne Holley, MD. “The goal is to spot the cancer early, so the smallest amount of lung tissue needs to be removed.”
“As a thoracic surgeon, who specializes in treating patients with lung cancer, if we can find a patient at an early enough stage that the tumor can be completely removed, we have several options available (depending on the patient’s other medical conditions, general endurance, stamina and –most importantly – whether the cancer has spread),” says Dr. Holley.
Surgical options include a wedge resection which involves removing a small area of lung around the tumor to get a clear margin. This procedure would be for someone, who does not have good lung function or very poor pulmonary reserve. If we take too much lung, the patient will be debilitated by shortness of breath.
Other resections, which are more standard cancer operations, include anatomic resections — such as, removing the segment of lung containing the tumor, which by definition takes out the feeding vessels, airways and lymph nodes. It’s a more thorough, complete resection.
The next step is a lobectomy or pneumonectomy, depending on the location of the tumor. In this procedure, we take a larger segment of the lung to include more lymph nodes and a wider margin.
In addition to these options, we also perform a hilar and mediastinal lymph node dissection for proper staging of the lung cancer.
A wide range of surgical options are available to treat lung cancer. Which of those operations is suitable depends on the patient’s other conditions and the size and location of the tumor.
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