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Surgical Procedures for Lung Cancer
by Debra Wood, RN
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 for Early Stage Lung Cancer
Surgery can be a cure for stage 0 and other early stages of lung cancer, depending on the specific type.
A thoracotomy is a surgical method for opening the chest wall. This give access to the lungs and other structures, including lymph nodes, which can be removed if needed during a procedure.
Options for lung cancer surgery are based on type, stage, size, and locations of tumor, include:
Palliative Procedures for Advanced Lung Cancer
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.
Surgery may also be used to remove tumors that spread to other areas, such as the brain or an adrenal gland and are causing problems
Procedures to relieve symptoms may include:
Lung cancer surgery. American Lung Association website. Available at:
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Updated November 3, 2016. Accessed August 30, 2017.
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Non-small cell lung cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/non-small-cell-lung-treatment-pdq. Updated April 13, 2017. Accessed August 30, 2017.
Palliative procedures for non-small cell lung cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/treating/palliative.html. Updated May 16, 2016. Accessed August 30, 2017.
Palliative procedures for small cell lung cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/small-cell-lung-cancer/treating/palliative.html. Updated May 16, 2016. Accessed August 30, 2017.
Small cell lung cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated June 23, 2017. Accessed August 30, 2017.
Small cell lung cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/hp/small-cell-lung-treatment-pdq. Updated January 20, 2017. Accessed August 30, 2017.
Surgery for non-small cell lung cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/treating/surgery.html. Updated May 16, 2016. Accessed August 30, 2017.
Surgery for small cell lung cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/small-cell-lung-cancer/treating/surgery.html. Updated May 16, 2016. Accessed August 30, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woodsd, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 7/28/2016
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