Lung Cancer Surgery
The goal of lung cancer surgery is removal of the cancerous mass. Surgery is utilized when the cancer is localized (or early stage) so that all malignant areas may be removed.
Here at WCHN, our thoracic oncology surgeons use minimally invasive thoracoscopic and robotic approaches whenever appropriate. This offers many advantages, including less pain, shorter length of stay in the hospital, fewer complications and faster healing and recovery. We offer advanced technology, including:
- The da Vinci Surgical System: A robotic surgical platform that offers important advantages including superior visualization, greater precision and a lower rate of complications.
- Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS): A small camera is inserted into the chest with a scope, which assists in better visualization in hard-to-reach areas of the lungs and airways.
Your surgeon will discuss with you the procedure he recommends for your specific lung cancer. Types of procedures our surgeons use include:
- Wedge Resection: Removal of a non-anatomic portion of lung that contains the tumor, plus a margin of healthy tissue, but not the outer lobe.
- Segmental Resection: Removing a larger anatomic portion of the lung, but not an entire lobe
- Lobectomy: Removing the entire lobe of one lung
- Pneumonectomy: Removal of an entire lung on one side
- Mediastinal lymph node dissection: Sampling of several lymph nodes to determine extent of cancer.
The decision to use systemic therapy is based on many factors such as the stage of the lung cancer, genomic testing results and a patient’s overall condition. Systemic therapies are drugs that go throughout the body to control, slow or cure your cancer. They include chemotherapy, targeted therapies and immunotherapy. Systemic therapy may be used alone or in combination with surgery or radiation.
Chemotherapy drugs are used to fight and kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is associated with side effects but there are many medications today to help to reduce these and most patients manage well. Chemotherapy is sometimes given by intravenous infusion (an IV, through a vein in your arm or port) or it may be taken orally as a pill. Most patients have a series of treatments over several weeks or months, often including drug-free periods to allow your body to recover.
Chemotherapy can be used in several ways:
- Prior to surgery, to shrink a tumor so it is easier to remove
- To decrease the risk of spread of cancer
- After surgery, to ensure that no cancer cells remain after the tumor has been removed
- As a palliative therapy, to reduce pain and other symptoms of advanced cancer.
- As maintenance therapy
Targeted therapies work differently from standard chemotherapy. They are typically oral medications (pills) that work by “targeting” specific DNA abnormalities within the cancer cells. The target is chosen after a thorough an analysis of a patient’s tumor specimen. Today there are a number of targeted agents used in the treatment of lung cancer. These are truly personalized cancer medicines.
A cancer treatment designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function. We have participated in critical research leading to the approval of these medicines and continue to run clinical trials in this important area of cancer research.
Radiation therapy, the precise and controlled use of radiation to kill cancer cells, can provide effective treatment for cancer. Here at WCHN, our highly skilled radiation oncologists use advanced technology that adapts to your breathing cycle, ensuring accuracy and protecting nearby tissue as high doses of radiation therapy are delivered to your cancer. Our techniques include:
External beam radiation
External beam radiation delivers a beam of high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. External beam radiation gets its name from the fact that the beams come from an external source (a machine called a linear accelerator) and are directed at the site of the tumor.
We offer several types of external beam radiation:
- Image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT)
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
- 3D conformal radiation therapy
- Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) – single or multiple radiation beams sweep around the patient, greatly reducing treatment time compared to conventional radiation treatment.
- Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT)
Interventional Radiology Treatments
Interventional radiologists are board-certified physicians who specialize in minimally invasive, targeted treatments delivered in the radiology suite. They may be used in the treatment of lung and include:
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
RFA is a precise non-surgical treatment that uses heat to eradicate cancer cells, minimizing risk to nearby healthy tissue. Radiofrequency energy offers safe, minimally invasive treatment for lung cancer with few, if any, side effects. Because this type of treatment is precise and localized, it doesn’t affect your overall health. Most patients are able to get quickly back to their normal lives.
Cryoablation is similar to RFA in that the energy is delivered directly into the tumor by a probe inserted through the skin. But rather than killing the tumor with heat, cryoablation uses an extremely cold gas to freeze it.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new methods or drugs to treat cancer or procedures to diagnosis or screen for cancer. Participation is always voluntary. WCHN’s research program is part of a premier regional cancer network that includes Danbury, New Milford and Norwalk Hospitals. Clinical trials at WCHN come from a wide variety of sources, including the National Cancer Institute (NCI), pharmaceutical companies, nearby university cancer centers, as well as well as those developed at the WCHN. Our goal is to offer you the most promising emerging treatments available.