It goes without saying that lung cancer is no laughing matter; in 2019 alone, over 130,000 Americans succumbed to this condition. One potential treatment method for this type of cancer is surgery. However, the question of whether surgery is a viable option varies from patient to patient.
Things to Consider
It should be stressed that surgery is generally reserved for those with non-small-cell lung cancer, or NSCLC for short. In contrast, small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) usually cannot be effectively treated with surgery, as this form of lung cancer spreads at a fast rate.
Before going under the knife, a prospective patient typically undergoes a number of tests to determine if lung cancer surgery can be performed safely. For example, pulmonary function tests are used to determine if the lungs will have a sufficient amount of tissues remaining following the procedure. The heart and other organs will also need to be examined thoroughly prior to surgery. If they are deemed too weak or poorly functional, the operation will not be able to proceed.
Additionally, doctors will also check the current status of the patient’s lung cancer. If the cancer has spread too far, such as to the lymph nodes between the lungs, then other treatment options will be considered.
When it comes to NSCLC, there are multiple surgical procedures that are used to remove cancerous tissues. The exact method that is used hinges on not only the size of the tumor, but also on the current functionality of the patient’s lungs. If possible, many surgeons opt for a more invasive approach, which often offers a better chance to fully and permanently remove the cancer.
Pneumonectomy: During a pneumonectomy, the patient’s entire lung is removed. This surgery is often used when the tumor is discovered to be near the center of the chest.
Lobectomy: Instead of taking out an entire lung, a lobectomy involves the removal of one of your lung’s five lobes.
Segmentectomy: As noted above, some people just don’t have the lung functionality to undergo more extensive procedures. For such individuals, a segmentectomy might be in order. During this operation, only a portion of a lobe is removed.
Sleeve resection: A sleeve resection not only extracts a cancerous lobe, but also a section of a large airway known as a bronchus. Your two bronchi connect your lungs to your windpipe; when a piece of one bronchus is removed, the remaining part of the bronchus is connected directly to what is left of the lobe.