What is Involved in Lung Cancer Surgery?
When suffering from lung cancer, it is relaxing to know that you have many treatment options, but it can also be overwhelming. It is best to evaluate each treatment option and understand what is going to be involved in each surgery or treatment option. When suffering from lung cancer you major options to choose from are: wedge resection surgery, lobectomy surgery, pneumonectomy surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
There are three options for surgery, wedge resection, lobectomy, and pneumonectomy. A wedge resection is most commonly performed, and it is the removal of a small portion of the lung (the cancer portion) along with the tissue around it. This can be performed to diagnose lung cancer or to remove a tumor. During this surgery a wedge shaped part of the lung is removed, the surgeon closes the incision, a chest tube is inserted, and the chest tube is removed later. The risks of the surgery involve the general risks of an anesthetic, the general risks of surgery, and you may have some difficulty breathing after the surgery.
A lobectomy is the removal of a lobe of one lung, and is generally performed to remove tumors and any tissue the cancer has spread to. The size of incision and tissue removed will depend on the extent of your condition. During the surgery the surgeon will stop the lobe’s blood and air supply. The surgeon will remove the lobe, and they most likely will remove a lymph node surrounding the tumor to see how far the cancer has spread; this ensures that the tumor and all of the cancer is removed.
A pneumonectomy is the removal of an entire a lung. It is often used as a last resort for lung cancer because of the seriousness of the operation and the risks after the operation as well. The candidates for this surgery must have good health, strong lung, and strong heart function. They have to be strong enough for the surgery, for recovery, and the heart and lung have to be strong enough to handle an increase load. This surgery is used on lung cancer patients in their early stages before the cancer spreads to surrounding areas. The benefit of this surgery is that by removing the entire lung with cancer, it makes you much less likely to suffer from reoccurring cancer.
In addition to surgery, you may want to consider a drug treatment for cancer called chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses medications to kill cells that are growing and splitting quickly, which includes cancer cells, and unfortunately hair cells as well. Chemotherapy drugs can be administered through a vein in your arm, or they can be taken orally. Chemotherapy drugs are given with specific patterns and breaks to ensure the best possible outcome. Chemotherapy can be used with surgery, used with radiation, or used by itself.
Radiation is most commonly used in combination with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is the use of high-powered energy beams that are used to kill cancer cells. They can either be directed at the cancer area from the outside of the body, or they can put needles inside your skin and use the beams through the needles.
A newer method of treating cancer is called targeted drug therapy. There are two different targeted drug therapies recommended for lung cancer. They are Bevacizumab, or Avastin, and Erlotinib, or Tarceva. Also, if you are suffering from a more advanced cancer then you may want to consider clinical trials or supportive care.