Lung cancer is a complex disease with several treatment options.
You will likely receive many forms of treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
At the UPMC Esophageal and Lung Surgery Institute, we offer minimally invasive surgery options to remove all or part of the cancerous cells in the lung.
You may need a biopsy to confirm the stage and type of lung cancer. Surgeons at UPMC use minimally invasive techniques to perform a biopsy whenever possible.
During a biopsy, the surgeon removes a small section of lung tissue in one of two ways:
During a CT-guided needle biopsy, the surgeon uses a CT scan to guide a large needle to the abnormal lung tissue.
Your surgeon will send your tissue sample to a pathologist who will study it under a microscope.
At the earliest stages of lung cancer, you may need a wedge resection.
During a wedge resection, your surgeon will:
If the pathologist confirms you have lung cancer, he or she will learn more about the type of tumor. This informs your surgeon of further treatment decisions.
When you've received a formal diagnosis of lung cancer, your doctor may suggest a lobectomy.
This is a delicate procedure. It involves removing the entire portion — or lobe — of the lung that contains cancer. In some cases, your surgeon may need to remove the entire lung.
Most traditional lung surgeries require large incisions to allow more access inside the chest.
At the UPMC Esophageal and Lung Surgery Institute, we also have the ability and expertise to perform lung surgery robotically.
Minimally invasive lung cancer surgery helps:
Your care team will give you detailed instructions to follow the week or days before your lung cancer surgery.
These will tell you what drugs to stop taking and provide any dietary restrictions.
You will receive general anesthesia and sleep throughout the operation.
With minimally invasive lung cancer surgery, your surgeon will make a few small incisions to insert a camera and surgical tools in the chest. Your surgeon may use video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) or the robot.
The length of surgery varies depending on how large of a section of lung your surgeon needs to remove.
A wedge resection can be quick, while a larger lobectomy can take several hours.
With a wedge resection, you may be able to go home the next day. You can often return to normal activities within a week or two.
With a lobectomy, you can expect to spend about three days in the hospital. While you're in the hospital, you will have a chest drainage tube.
Blood clots are the primary concern after lung surgery.
To reduce the risk of blood clots, you will need to:
Before going home, you will learn to do breathing exercises and use an incentive spirometer. This device helps you practice taking deep breaths and prevent infections.
Recovering from a lobectomy varies by the extent of the surgery. In most cases, it takes at least four weeks before you feel like yourself again.
Some tips to help you recover after lung cancer surgery:
To help you prevent lung infections and encourage healing, try your best to avoid being around:
Your care team will follow your progress throughout your recovery. Our goal is to help you return to your normal life.
Contact us at the UPMC Esophageal and Lung Surgery Institute any time you have questions or suspect that you may have complications from surgery.