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Weighing the Options of Surgery for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

By eHealthIQ
Reviewed: September 28, 2016

There are a lot of really difficult choices to make when you find out that you have non small cell lung cancer. So much depends on what stage you are in when it is discovered. Some people decide not to treat it at all. Their feeling is that the treatments are more debilitating than the disease. Others go for clinical trials. That is a great way to use new medications that aren’t on the market. There are some out there that are giving very promising results.

One of the scariest options is to have surgery to remove the non small cell lung cancer. If it is an option for you, it is regarded as one of the best ways to cure non small cell lung cancer. Be aware that any of these surgeries holds the risk of blood clots and complications. You are looking at at least 5 days of recovery in the hospital.

You will need to have pulmonary function tests to make sure that your lungs can handle the surgery. You’ll go through some other tests to ensure that your heart and body can handle it, too. Here are the main surgeris involved

Pneumonectomy: If your tumor is near the central area of your chest, you might need this operation. You will have an entire lung removed.

Lobectomy: Your lungs have a total of 5 lobes in them. If your tumor in a lobe, you might have it removed. This is considered by many to be the optimal surgery to have, if possible.

Segmentectomy: This is also known as a wedge resection. If you don’t have a lot of lung function, the doctor might go with this surgery. A portion of your lobe will be removed.

Sleeve Resection: Sometimes a tumor is in your airways, which are sort of like a shirt sleeve. In this surgery the doctor will cut out a portion of your sleeve and then attach the remaining ends. If this isn’t an option, the next step is the pneumonectomy.

Video-assisted thoracic surgery: If you have cancer that is in an early stage, you might qualify for VATS. This surgery is less invasive and only require a few small incisions. The doctor will make an incision and slide a tube with a camera on it inside. The camera allows the doctor to perform an operation using the video to see inside.

Regardless of which surgery you end up with, the doctor will be looking very closely at your lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread.

You will be under anesthesia. Usually the incision is on the side of your chest between ribs. When you wake up, you will have tubes connected to your chest to drain the excess fluid out. Most of the time you’ll need 5 to 7 days to recuperate in the hospital before you can go home.

In general, these surgeries should only be done if the tumor can be removed completely. If the tumor is in the adrenal gland, it could cause complications. Some doctors do not agree with using surgery to treat tumors, so you should read up as much as you can on non small cell lung cancer and make an informed decision.

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