Lung Cancer

About: Cancer can develop in any part of the body and occurs when the body’s cells begin to grow in excess.  When too many cells are created, they crowd out the normal cells creating cancer.  Lung cancer occurs in the lungs, often starting in the bronchi, the section of the body that transports inhaled oxygen into the lungs. Lung cancer is also common in other areas of the lungs such as the bronchioles, sub-sections that transport oxygen into the lungs, or alveoli which are the tiny air sacs at the end of the bronchioles.

There are two main types of lung cancer.  Small Cell Lung Cancer, and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC).  About 80 to 85% of lung cancers are NSCLC and are categorized into different subtypes depending on which area of the lung they develop. NSCLC include: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.  These lung cancers are often similar in treatment and prognoses.

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer, and is by far the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined (American Cancer Society).

Surgical Treatment: There are different treatment options for lung cancer.  Surgery can often be an option for early-stage NSCLC since it can offer the best chance to cure the disease.  Our thoracic surgeons are experts in surgical techniques for lung cancer, including:

  • Pneumonectomy – removal of an entire lung
  • Lobectomy – removal of an entire lobe, or section, of the lung
  • Segmentectomy or wedge restriction – partial removal of a lobe
  • Sleeve resection – removal of cancerous cells or tumor in the main bronchus. The ends of the bronchus are rejoined and remaining lobes are attached.
  • Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS) or thoracoscopy – uses a thin flexible tube with a light and camera on the end to remove small lung cancers, or remove fluid around the lungs.
  • Robotically-Assisted thoracic surgery – similar to a thoracoscopy though instead uses a robotic machine and control panel in the operating room

The type of surgery performed depends on the recommendations made by the team of doctors treating the patient.  Size and location of the cancer, lung function, age, and lifestyle of the patient are all factors considered when deciding on surgical care and treatment.