After a doctor makes a diagnosis and determines the stage (extent) of the cancer, he/she will suggest a treatment plan. Treatment and surgical options for the most common lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, can vary. Patients may have surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of treatments.
If surgery is recommended, there may be several options. The type of surgery will depend on the stage of the cancer, among other factors. The surgeon may perform one of the following:
- Wedge Resection: Removal of a small section of the lung containing the tumor and a margin of healthy tissue
- Segmental Resection: Removal of a larger portion of the lung, but not an entire lobe
- Lobectomy: Removal of an entire lobe of one lung
- Pneumonectomy: Removal of an entire lung
If surgery is recommended, some common surgical approaches include:
Open Surgery: Lung cancer surgery may be performed using open surgery through a long chest incision. Doctors may also need to spread the ribs to access the lung. Open surgery allows doctors to touch and feel organs while operating.
Minimally Invasive Surgery:
- Thoracoscopy/VATS: Thoracoscopy is also called video-assisted thoracic surgery or VATS. Doctors insert a tiny camera (thorascope) and surgical instruments into the chest through small incisions. The camera takes images inside the patient’s body and sends them to a video monitor in the operating room to guide surgeons as they operate.
- Robotic-Assisted Surgery: When using robotic- assisted surgery, doctors make a few small incisions - similar to thoracoscopy procedures. During robotic-assisted surgery, the surgeon sits at a console near the patient and controls the instruments, which bend and rotate. The surgeon uses a 3D HD vision system which provides a magnified view inside the patient’s body. The system translates all hand movements into smaller, precise movements of tiny instruments in the patient’s body.