Like all surgeries, lung cancer surgery is most successful when performed by a specialist with a great deal of experience in the particular procedure.

SIU School of Medicine’s TOPS lung surgeons are among the most skilled in the state. They perform a large number of surgeries for lung cancer each year, using the least invasive and most effective techniques

Lung cancer may be treated with surgery alone or combined with other treatments. Chemotherapy or radiation may be given before surgery to shrink tumors. This is called induction or neoadjuvant therapy. 
Chemotherapy and or radiation therapy after surgery maybe added to help destroy cancer cells that may remain in the body.  This is called adjuvant therapy. Surgery is used less often for small cell lung cancer because this type of cancer spreads more quickly through the body and is not often found in the early stages when it is confined to the lungs.

The most common types of surgery for lung cancer are:

  • Wedge resection: Removal of the tumor and a pie- or wedge-shaped piece of the lung around the tumor
  • Lobectomy: Removal of the lobe of the lung with cancer
  • Segmentectomy or segmental resection: Removal of a segment, or part, of the lobe where the cancer is located
  • Pneumonectomy: Removal of the entire lung
  • Sleeve resection: Removal of part of the bronchus
    In addition, lymph nodes in the chest will be removed and looked at under a microscope to find out if the lung cancer has spread. This will help doctors decide if you need further treatment after surgery.

Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS): 

SIU School of Medicine’s TOPS  surgeons are specially trained and highly skilled at performing this minimally invasive surgery.  Wedge resections and lobectomy can be performed using VATS.  Post-operative pain is less and patients are able to leave the hospital sooner.

Other types of surgery

Sometimes surgery is needed to help problems caused by lung cancer or its treatment. This may include:

  • Laser surgery to open a blocked airway
  • Placement of small tubes (stents) to keep airways open
  • Cryosurgery to freeze and destroy cancer tissue
  • Placement of a Pleurx-Denver catheter to drain fluid that may accumulate in the pleural cavity (the layer of tissue that surrounds the lungs)
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery

Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU