Lung Cancer Surgery

Surgery may be a viable treatment option if your lung cancer is confined to one lung and nearby lymph nodes. Types of surgery for lung cancer range from a segmental or wedge resection (in which a small part of the lung is removed) to a pneumonectomy (the removal of an entire lung). Surgery may be followed with chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill any remaining cells and increase the chances of a cure.

An Overview of Lung Cancer Surgery

Lung cancer surgery is a major operation. It can be used as lung cancer treatment if the cancer is found in one lung and in nearby lymph nodes only. For this reason, surgery is more common in people with non-small cell lung cancer than those with small cell lung cancer.
Occasionally, surgery may be used to help determine the patient's exact type of lung cancer. During surgery, the doctor will also remove lymph nodes to see if they contain cancer. Laser therapy (the use of an intensely powerful beam of light to kill cancer cells) may be used.
Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the operation, some patients may receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment given after the surgery, to increase the chances of a cure, is called adjuvant therapy.

Types of Surgery for Lung Cancer

The type of surgery a doctor performs for treatment depends on the location of the tumor in the lung.

An operation to remove only a small part of the lung is called a segmental or wedge resection.


When the surgeon removes an entire lobe of the lung, the procedure is called a lobectomy.


Pneumonectomy is the removal of an entire lung.

Some tumors are inoperable (cannot be removed by surgery) because of the size or location, and some patients cannot have surgery for other medical reasons.
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Lung Cancer Treatment Options

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