Lung Cancer Surgery

Treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer that hasn’t yet spread to other areas of the body, surgery may be an option in order to remove your tumor. Depending on the type, stage and location of your lung cancer as well as considering your health, we’ll discuss if and which surgery option is right for you. 

Types of Lung Cancer Surgery

It’s natural to have worries when considering whether to undergo a potentially life-changing operation. But you can take comfort in knowing that modern lung surgery is often less invasive and more effective than in years past. And for many people living with lung cancer, surgery is the best chance for their cure. Mercy offers the following types of lung cancer surgery.

Wedge Resection or Segmental Resection

Segmental resection surgery, also known as a segmentectomy, is typically used to remove larger pieces of the lobe surrounding the affected area, while wedge resection is used to remove smaller pieces of the lobe.

Wedge resection and segmentectomies are similar to each other in that the lung mass and a small portion of the lung itself are removed, however, they involve slightly different procedures.

  • A wedge resection removes a wedge-shaped piece of the lung that includes the tumor and surrounding tissue.
  • A segmentectomy removes a part of the lung that is larger than a wedge section but smaller than a complete lobe.

If you have limited lung function or your body can’t tolerate the loss of one whole lobe of the lung, your Mercy doctor may consider this procedure. Typically, wedge resections and segmentectomies are less invasive than more extensive lung cancer surgeries. 

Lobectomy

A lobectomy is a medical procedure involving the removal of an entire section (lobe) of the lung. Your lungs are made up of five sections called lobes. The right lung has three lobes while the left lung has just two; this is due to the heart’s presence in your chest cavity. A lobectomy is the most common surgery used to treat lung cancer and is generally the main treatment for those diagnosed in the early stages.

A lobectomy may also be used to help people who have developed non-cancerous lung tumors or other lung diseases, such as tuberculosis, emphysema, fungal infections or abscesses. 

Pneumonectomy

A pneumonectomy is a surgical procedure done to remove an entire lung. This type of surgery may be needed if the tumor is close to the center of the chest. A surgeon will typically make an incision along the side of your body in order to extract the affected lung. Eventually, fluid comes to occupy that space. Most people can survive by relying on the use of one lung. Prior to surgery, your Mercy doctor will determine your ability to function once the damaged lung is removed.

Sleeve Resection

Also known as a sleeve lobectomy, sleeve resection treats cancer that extends from your affected lung into a nearby major airway, such as your bronchial tube. Your Mercy doctor works to remove the tumor in a lobe of the lung and a part of your airway, before reattaching the remaining section of the airway to the new lobe. When successful, this surgery preserves part of the lung. 

Surgical Approaches to Lung Cancer Surgery 

We offer a broad range of surgical approaches for patients undergoing lung cancer surgery. Whenever possible, Mercy performs minimally invasive lung surgery, which allows our patients to return to their normal activities faster.

  • Thoracotomy - some patients need to be treated using a type of “open” surgery called a thoracotomy. In this procedure, your surgeon will access the affected lung by making an incision on the side of your chest between your ribs.
  • Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS) - instead of one large incision, several tiny incisions are made. A thoracoscope with an attached camera enables your Mercy doctor to transmit images of the operative area onto a local monitor while performing the surgery. Unlike typical “open” surgeries, such as your standard thoracotomy, VATS is minimally invasive and can reduce overall trauma from the procedure.
  • Robotic-Assisted Lung Surgery - in this minimally invasive lung procedure, a surgeon will make a few small incisions between the ribs by manipulating robotic arms that hold special instruments. High-resolution, 3D images guide the surgeon while they maneuver the robotic “wrists” for greater surgical accuracy. 

Mercy’s Team Approach to Treating Lung Cancer

Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mark Blucher discusses lung cancer surgery and our team approach to providing personalized treatment.

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