According to the American Cancer Society, more than 220,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. The overall five-year survival rate for lung cancer is approximately 15 percent. Unfortunately, more than 50 percent of patients are diagnosed while they are in stage III or IV of the disease. For those who are diagnosed in stage I lung cancer, the five-year survival rate increases to 80 to 95 percent.
Most patients with early stage lung cancer are asymptomatic (show no obvious symptoms). For these patients, a minimally invasive video-assisted surgical procedure may be a preferred approach to removing the cancer.
Podcast: Should I Get a Lung Cancer Screening?
Keith D. Mortman, MD, FACS, FCCP, discusses the option for lung cancer screenings of those at high risk of developing the disease in this health education podcast. Since it often has few symptoms until the late stages, this screening can provide critical time for treatment.
Surgery to remove the cancer in the affected lobe of the lung (lobectomy) is the standard of care for treatment of early-stage non small-cell lung cancer (stages I and II).
As opposed to a thoracotomy, which involves cutting into the side of a patient's chest to remove all or part of the lung, surgeons now use less invasive procedures to removing lung cancer.
Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS) does not require the spreading of the ribs and results in smaller incisions which could mean less post-operative pain and a shorter hospital stay. During VATS, a surgeon makes small pencil-sized holes in the body while video equipment is used to provide a magnified view of the surgical site. Endoscopic instruments are inserted through the small incisions and to perform the surgery. VATS does not require the spreading of the ribs which could mean less post-operative pain and a shorter hospital stay.
Robotic Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery, using the the daVinci robot, offers surgeons both 3D Visualization of the surgical field as well as more flexible instrumentation. Just as with the VATS procedure, robotic surgery does not require the spreading of the ribs and results in smaller incisions which could mean less post-operative pain and a shorter hospital stay. During robotic surgery, the surgeon makes small pencil-sized holes in the body and inserts robotic arms. A camera is also inserted to provide a 3-D magnified view of the surgical site.