Lung Cancer Surgery

Surgery is usually a first line of defense against lung cancer, providing an option to remove the cancer entirely or in part, reducing the chances of the cancer coming back.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s lung cancer program offers advanced and robotic surgery options to help fight lung cancer through our nationally renowned thoracic surgery program. As pioneers in robotic thoracic surgery, our surgeons offer unique options to help patients recover more quickly and experience less pain.

Who is a candidate for lung cancer surgery?

Ultimately, this will be determined by you and your oncology care team. However, cancer surgery is most often recommended for patients who have non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). About 75 – 85% of all lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancer.

For patients where the cancer is entirely resectable (removable via surgery,) surgery may be the only treatment they need. Others may need radiation therapy and chemotherapy in addition to surgery if the cancer has spread or if it cannot be removed entirely via surgery.

How successful is lung cancer surgery?

Because lung cancer often has no symptoms until advanced stages, many lung cancers are not diagnosed until they have persisted for some time. This is why NGMC recommends a lung cancer screening for all patients who meet the screening criteria. When lung cancer surgery is recommended, typically the cancer is still localized or regional, and survival rates are higher. The 5-year survival rate for localized non-small cell lung cancer is 65%. The survival rate for regionalized lung cancer is 37%. NGMC also participates in national research trials for lung cancer, offering our patients the latest advancements in care with the ultimate goal of improving survival rates for lung cancer.

Types of Lung Cancer Surgery

To explain the different types of lung cancer surgery (or resection), it helps to explain the anatomy of the lung. A person’s lungs are made up of large sections called “lobes,” with three lobes in the right lung and two lobes in the left. From there, each lobe is divided into “segments.” In the different types of surgery, the surgeon may remove a segment, a lobe or the entire lung.

  • Wedge resection (segmentectomy) – This surgery removes a smaller portion of the lung—a single segment or a wedge of the segment—and a small portion of the healthy tissue around the cancer to create a margin.
  • Lobectomy – This surgery removes a larger portion of your lung—the entire lobe—that contains the cancer. We offer robotic lobectomy surgery.
  • Pneumonectomy – In this procedure, the entire lung that contains the cancer is removed.

The specific type of surgery is chosen based on what will create the best long-term outcome for the patient and limit the potential that the cancer will return.

Robotic Lung Cancer Surgery

At Northeast Georgia Medical Center, our renowned cardiothoracic surgery team offers some of the most advanced and minimally invasive lung surgery techniques available. Utilizing the da Vinci robotic system, our surgeons can perform lung cancer surgery through just a few small incisions. This lessens pain and recovery times for patients, while providing the same great outcomes as open surgery.

Benefits of robotic lung cancer surgery
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less blood loss
  • Fewer complications
  • Less need for narcotic pain medicine
  • A faster recovery
  • Smaller incisions associated with minimal scarring
  • For lobectomies, it can also reduce the duration of a chest tube
Learn about the da Vinci Surgical System

The da Vinci Surgical System is a tool that utilizes advanced, robotic, computer and optical technologies to assist your surgeon with your operation. It does not act on its own and its movements are controlled by your surgeon.

The da Vinci Surgical System has a 3D high definition (3D-HD) vision system, special instruments and computer software that allow your surgeon to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control. The 3D-HD image is highly magnified, so your surgeon has a close-up view of the area he or she is operating on.

The da Vinci instruments have mechanical wrists that bend and rotate to mimic the movements of the human wrist – allowing your surgeon to make small, precise movements inside your body.

And, da Vinci software can minimize the effects of a surgeon’s hand tremors on instrument movements.

Rehabilitation & Recovery

While access to robotic surgery options may reduce your recovery time from surgery, rehabilitation is still an important part of the journey for many cancer survivors. NGMC’s physical, occupational and speech therapists have experience serving cancer survivors throughout the continuum of care. We also offer a specialized Pulmonary Rehabilitation program to help individuals regain their independence and improve their activity levels and quality of life after surgery.

Patient Navigation

No one is prepared for a cancer diagnosis. Our patient navigation program is a free offering for patients who need help with anything from navigating the treatment journey to those who need transportation to appointments or nutritious food. Learn more and reach out to our cancer Patient Navigators.

For more information about cancer care at NGMC, please call 770-219-8815.

Meet the surgeons who perform thoracic robotic surgeries at Northeast Georgia Medical Center: