For some lung cancers in the early stages, an option that offers the best chance for a complete recovery is surgery. Medical literature has shown this to be true when a patient is diagnosed with non-small cell cancer and the detection is made in the early stages and the tumor is small and no evidence is present that it has spread to any other organ systems, if surgery is used to remove the tumor, the patient has up to an 80% chance of passing the five year survival mark. Surgery is recommended for some but not others - why? Surgical treatment is normally recommended for non-small cell cancers, especially in the early stages. Surgery MAY be recommended for small cell IF it's diagnosed in the earliest stages. The reason for this is because most small cell is seldom diagnosed before it's already begun to spread to other parts of the body.
On the other hand, non-small cell does not spread as fast or as virulently. Non-small cell tends to localize into one spot, therefore, there is a greater chance that surgery can remove all the cancer in one surgery. Depending on where the tumor is located is how the decision is formed as to whether or not surgery is appropriate. If it is located too close to the heart, the windpipe, major blood vessels or other major organs, the risks and dangers are much greater if surgery is attempted.
In these cases your doctor may recommend radiation or chemotherapy to shrink and kill the cancerous cells. The different kinds of surgery for treatment. Depending on the location and size of the tumor found, there are three main types of surgery that are used.
If it has been found in it's early stage and is confined to a very small portion of the lung, an oncologist may perform a 'lung resection' or a 'segmentectomy'. During each of those surgeries the doctor removes a small section of one lung, the area where the cancerous cells have been detected. If it's determined that it may have invaded the nearby cells though, the doctor will then use more radical surgeries. The removal of one or more lobes of the lung, but not the entire organ, is called a 'lobectomy'. If the thoracic surgeon believes that only part of it is affected and that it has not spread to the entire organ, the surgeon will opt for a lobectomy.
However, if it is believed the entire lung may be involved, he may then choose to do a pneumonectomy. A 'pneumonectomy' is the removal of the entire lung. Prior to this surgery, the doctor will perform tests to be sure that the remaining lung will be capable of supporting your needs for oxygen before doing a complete pneumonectomy. Surgery is a very invasive treatment and is not the treatment of choice for most cancers. Doctors will only attempt surgery if there is a chance that it will remove it in its entirety. If it has advanced beyond a small portion, or it's fast spreading, then surgery to remove it does not make any sense.
In these instances, radiology, chemotherapy or some other type of treatment would be a more reasonable alternative.
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