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Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer

12/15/2006

Question:

My dad was recently diagnosed with Stage 1 non-small cell lung cancer. I read online about two treatment options: a lobectomy and video-assisted thoracic surgery. Can you tell me the difference between these treatments? The internet was unclear to me. Thank you.

Answer:

The standard operation for Stage 1 lung cancer is a lobectomy which is the removal of about 1/2 of one lung.  The traditional way of doing a lobectomy is by making a 10 - 12 inch incision on the side and spreading the ribs.  A video-assisted lobectomy is the same operation; however, it is done using several very small incisions without spreading this ribs. 

The advantage of the video-assisted technique is less pain, shorter hospital stay and faster return to normal function.  Not every patient is a candidate for the video-assisted lobectomy - it depends on where the cancer is located and on the patient's anatomy.  Additionally, not all thoracic surgeons in the country have the expertise to perform the video-assisted technique.  This is something that you should talk to your surgeon about. 

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Response by:

Sandra L Starnes, MD Sandra L Starnes, MD
Assistant Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati