Surgery is a standard form of treatment for both non-small cell and small cell lung cancers. Captain Miller, can you tell us about some of the surgical procedures used to treat these conditions?
Sure, Dr. Green. There are four types of surgery used to treat non-small cell lung cancer.
One surgical option, called lobectomy, is used when the tumor has spread throughout a large portion of one of the lungs' lobes. In a lobectomy, the entire affected lobe is removed.
If the tumor has spread beyond one lobe, but is still in just one lung, a pneumonectomy may be done. A pneumonectomy means one whole lung is removed.
If cancer is present in one of the bronchi, surgery may be done to remove part of the bronchus. This procedure is called a sleeve resection.
A final type of surgery, reserved for a very select group of patients, is called a wedge resection. In this procedure, the tumor and a wedge of normal tissue around it are removed from the affected lung. When a slightly larger amount of tissue is taken, it's called a segmental resection. For most patients with lung cancer, there is a high risk of recurrence following this procedure.
Surgery for small cell lung cancer may be used if the cancer is found in one lung and in nearby lymph nodes only. However, because small cell lung cancer is usually found in both lungs, surgery alone is not often recommended.