Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Lung Cancer Surgery

Surgery

Surgery is the preferred treatment for patients with early stage non-small cell lung cancer or NSCLC. Unfortunately, most patients who have advanced or metastatic disease are not suitable for surgery.

People who have NSCLC that has not spread can usually tolerate surgery provided they have adequate lung function.

Recommended Related to Lung Cancer

What Is Lung Cancer?

Although lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. in both men and women, both the occurrence of lung cancer and the deaths related to it can be reduced. More than four out of every five cases of lung cancer are associated with cigarette smoking. The cause-and-effect relationship has been extensively documented. During the 1920s, large numbers of men began to smoke cigarettes, presumably in response to increased advertising. Twenty years later, the frequency of lung cancer in men...

Read the What Is Lung Cancer? article > >

A portion of a lobe, a full lobe, or an entire lung may be removed. The extent of removal depends on the size of the tumor, its location, and how far it has spread.

A technique called cryosurgery is sometimes used for NSCLC. In cryosurgery, the tumor is frozen, which destroys it. This treatment is mainly reserved for patients who can’t tolerate traditional surgery.

Despite complete surgical removal, a large proportion of patients with early stage cancer have recurrence of cancer.

Surgery is not widely used in SCLC. Because SCLC spreads widely and rapidly through the body, removing it all by surgery is usually impossible.

An operation for lung cancer is major surgery. Many people experience pain, weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath after surgery. Most have problems moving around, coughing, and breathing deeply. The recovery period can be several weeks or even months.

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is a less invasive type of surgery that is used when possible for the treatment of early stage NSCLC. Recovery from this type of surgery is usually quicker than with traditional surgery.

 

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on June 04, 2014
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
Using GPS to Detect Lung Cancer
VIDEO
mans hand putting out cigarette
Article
 
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
FEATURE
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
SLIDESHOW
 
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
VIDEO
 
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
VIDEO
Pets Improve Your Health
SLIDESHOW
 
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW
Lung Cancer Surgery Options
VIDEO
 

WebMD Special Sections