If lung cancer is localized and has not spread beyond the original site, surgical removal of the cancer is the most common treatment. The goal is to remove as much of the cancer as possible while keeping as much lung tissue and function as possible. Chemo- and/or radiation therapy may be used before the surgery to shrink the tumor or after to try to kill off any remaining cancer cells after surgery.
Surgical removal is not always an option since most lung cancers are found in advanced stages. In this case, surgery may be done to relieve symptoms.
Surgery can be a cure for stage 0 and other early stages of lung cancer in those who have small cell lung cancer.
A thoracotomy is a surgical method for opening the chest wall in order to access the lungs. An incision is made along the back in a C-shaped manner, and the chest wall is opened. This give access to the lungs and other structures, including lymph nodes, which can be removed during a procedure.
Options for lung cancer surgery include:
A number of minor procedures can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. As cancer grows, it affects the body's ability to function properly. In the case of lung cancer, tumors cause problems that can can interfere with breathing. Procedures to relieve symptoms may include:
Lung cancer (non-small cell). American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003115-pdf.pdf. Accessed July 28, 2016.
Lung cancer (small cell). American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003116-pdf.pdf. Accessed July 28, 2016.
Non-small cell lung cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114774/Non-small-cell-lung-cancer. Updated January 25, 2016. Accessed July 28, 2016.
Radiation therapy. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/lung-cancer/diagnosing-and-treating/radiation-therapy.html. Accessed July 28, 2016.
Small cell lung cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115654/Small-cell-lung-cancer. Updated October 15, 2015. Accessed July 28, 2016.
Treatment options by stage. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/non-small-cell-lung-treatment-pdq#link/_212_toc. Updated July 8, 2016. Accessed July 28, 2016.
Treatment options by stage. National Cancer Institute website. Available at:http://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/small-cell-lung-treatment-pdq#section/_112. Updated July 7, 2016. Accessed July 28, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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