Surgery for Lung Cancer
Surgery is often recommended for people with lung cancer. For patients with non-small lung cancer--which accounts for 80 percent of lung cancer cases--it is often the best choice.
Surgery, called lung resection, is often considered for patients in the earliest stage of lung cancer. During this surgery, doctors remove a section of the lung that contains cancer. Depending on the type of surgical procedure (open, video-assisted or robotic), most most patients stay in the hospital three to six days and can return to their normal activity levels in about four weeks. Nine out of 10 people who have resections can resume a normal lifestyle after their surgery.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS)
Doctors at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center are experts in video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) to remove lung cancer. This minimally invasive surgery requires only three small incisions. During the procedure, a surgeon can remove a cancerous part of the lung through an incision less than two inches long.
Robotic Thoracic Surgery
Due to rapidly evolving technological advances in robotic surgery, thoracic surgeons at the University of Chicago Medicine are now using the da Vinci surgical system to perform robot-assisted lung resection and other thoracic procedures. This approach uses computer-aided technology and robotics to provide surgeons a greater range of motion, high-definition three-dimensional views and fine precision while operating within the chest cavity. Like the VATS procedure, robotic surgery requires only a few small incisions.
Benefits of VATS and Robotic Surgery
Studies show that patients who have VATS or robotic surgery for lung cancer go home sooner than patients who have traditional lung surgery. They also experience considerably less pain and fewer complications after surgery. Patients with early stage small cell lung cancer who have not had previous chemotherapy or radiation are often ideal for these minimally invasive approaches.
Even if a patient is not a candidate for VATS or robotic surgery, our surgeons can perform lung surgery using small incisions. Many times, they can make the incision through the side of the chest, between the ribs. This helps minimize pain and speeds the healing process.
Dedicated Thoracic Surgeons
Studies show that the immediate outcomes of lung surgery are better when a board-certified thoracic surgeon (rather than a general surgeon) performs your operation, and are best when a surgeon who focuses exclusively on lung surgery does your operation. More importantly, recent studies show that the likelihood of being cured of cancer is best when a dedicated thoracic surgeon performs your operation. Our surgeons are dedicated thoracic surgeons who do not perform general surgery or cardiac surgery.