Successful surgery for lung cancer, with the chance of cure, may only be possible after the surgeon has considered the following points:

  • The patient and their lungs must be fit enough generally to cope with surgery
  • The tumour must not have spread to other parts of the body

It is more common for non-small cell lung cancers to be surgically removed as they are generally slower growing. However, small cell lung cancer can occasionally be removed if the disease is at a very early stage of development. An experienced surgeon will always try to operate when at all possible.

Common Questions

Are there different types of surgery for lung cancer?
Yes, there are three common types of surgery for lung cancer:

  • Lobectomy – performed when lung cancer is confined to a single lobe of the lung
  • Pneumonectomy – removal of an entire lung
  • Wedge Resection – removes small nodules and is the procedure of choice if a patient’s physical condition will not allow more extensive surgery.

How long will a patient have to wait for surgery?
Surgery should be performed as soon as possible after completing the preoperative assessment.

Will patients need any other type of treatment along with the surgery?
After the operation, patients may be offered chemotherapy if the surgery has completely removed the cancer. This can destroy any cancer cells that might still be in the body. There are advantages and disadvantages of undergoing chemotherapy which doctors will explain fully to patients. If the surgery has not completely removed the cancer patients may be offered radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatment. Doctors will fully discuss all options with patients.

For more information on surgery see our 'My Lung Surgery' booklet

Alternatively, watch our YouTube video here:

Do you have views on what information would have been useful to know about your surgical team?

We are supporting the Society for Cardiothoracic surgery in a project to look at what information patients and carers should have access to about the performance of their surgical team. Each year figures are produced and the aim is to make these as useful and appropriate to people who have surgery. 

Please complete the survey that you can download on the left side of this screen. You can then save, print and send to or send to LCISS team, 98 Holm Street, Glasgow, G2 6SY. If you have questions or comments you can contact us at the email above or on Freephone 0333 323 7200 option 2.

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