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Lung Removal Surgery

Beaumont’s Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer program offers several different types of treatment for lung cancer. Treatments may include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation, laser therapy (photodynamic therapy or PDT), surgery, or some combination of these (combination treatment/multimodality treatment).

Not all lung cancer will be treated the same way. Some types of lung cancer are best treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation, and some types are best treated with surgery. There are other effective treatments doctors may also use. 

Sometimes surgery is necessary and is likely to lead to a cure, and sometimes non-surgical treatments are best. For example, surgery is commonly used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but small cell lung cancers are often treated with chemotherapy and, if possible, radiation therapy. 

Different types of lung removal surgery

To better understand lung removal surgery, it may help to know a bit about lung anatomy. Your lungs are made up of five lobes. There are three lobes on the right lung and two on the left lung. You can survive without all of the lobes, and in some cases, you can survive with only one lung. Lung removal surgeries may involve removal of part of one or more lobes, or all of one to three lobes.

Surgery to treat lung cancer involves removing part of the lungs or one complete lung. Surgeons at Beaumont typically use one of three main types of surgery for lung cancer treatment. If you are a candidate for lung cancer surgery, your doctor will decide upon the best lung surgery for you based upon the size and location of the tumor in the lung, the extent of the cancer, your general health, and other factors.

The three most common types of lung removal surgery are:

Segmentectomy or wedge resection – If cancerous tumors are small and cancer is confined to the lungs, doctors may choose a wedge resection or a segmentectomy. A segmentectomy removes a large part of one lung lobe. A wedge resection removes only a small piece of lung tissue from one or more lobes.

Lobectomy – A lobectomy is removal of one or two lobes of the lung. It can be done if the cancer cells are confined to just one or two lobes.

Pneumonectomy – A pneumonectomy is removal of one entire lung if two lobes on the left or three lobes on the right are affected by cancer cells. Pneumonectomy is only done with the goal of removing all cancer from the body. If the chances of successfully eliminating all cancer cells aren’t outstanding, doctors will not perform this surgery. To be a candidate for a pneumonectomy, you must have enough healthy lung tissue to sustain your breathing after the one lung is removed. 

If your lungs are healthy enough, your doctor may opt for a more extensive surgery, removing more of your lung tissue. This is because the more extensive surgeries, like lobectomies and pneumonectomies may provide the best chance for a cure of lung cancer than a wedge resection or a segmentectomy.

Risks and benefits of lung cancer surgery

Lung cancer surgery can be curative for some patients, and it can improve odds of long-term survival. It is often an effective treatment option for people with early stage lung cancer. However, there are risks. It’s a major surgery, and the recovery period can range from weeks to months. Some of the risks of lung cancer surgery are:

  • Bleeding Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Pneumonia
  • An allergic reaction to the anesthesia or other surgery-related medication
  • Shortness of breath with activity (this could be a long-term complication)

Lung cancer treatment at Beaumont

Through Beaumont’s Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer program, we develop an individualized treatment plan based on your unique situation. Your doctor will work closely with you to develop the most effective treatment plan for you.