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Lung Cancer (cont.)

Lung Cancer Surgery

Surgery is the preferred treatment for patients with early stage NSCLC. Unfortunately, 60% to 80% of patients have advanced or metastatic disease and are not suitable candidates for surgery.

  • People who have NSCLC that has not spread can tolerate surgery provided they have adequate lung function.
  • A portion of a lobe, a full lobe, or an entire lung may be removed. The extent of removal depends on the size of the tumor, its location, and how far it has spread.
  • A technique called cryosurgery is sometimes used for NSCLC. In cryosurgery, the tumor is killed by freezing it. This treatment is mainly for relief of symptoms and not for cure.
  • Cure rates for small cancers at the edges of the lung are around 80%.
  • Despite complete surgical removal, a large proportion of patients with early stage cancer have a recurrence of the cancer and die from it.

Surgery is not widely used in SCLC. Because SCLC spreads widely and rapidly through the body, removing it all by surgery usually is impossible.

An operation for lung cancer is major surgery. Many people experience pain, weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath after surgery. Most have problems moving around, coughing, and breathing deeply. The recovery period can be several weeks or even months.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/15/2013

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