Skip to main content
Parkridge Medical Center
Avg ER Wait
Checking ER Wait Time
The feed could not be reached

Surgical Procedures for Lung Cancer

Surgical Removal of the Lung or Portions of the Lung

Surgery is used to remove the cancer cells from the lungs. It is primarily used for early stage lung cancer, but can sometimes be used in more advanced stages of the disease following chemotherapy or combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

The doctor may remove a small part of the lung (a wedge resection), an entire lobe of the lung (lobectomy), or the entire lung (pneumonectomy). The amount of lung removed depends on several factors, including the size and location of the tumor, whether lymph nodes have cancer in them, and how well the lungs are functioning. Not all lung cancers are amenable to surgery, and some are initially treated with chemotherapy and radiation rather than surgery.

Thoracotomy with Resection

A thoracotomy is a surgical method for opening the chest wall in order to access the lungs. The surgeon makes an incision along the back in a C-shaped manner, and the chest wall is opened. The surgeon removes the tissue and/or tumor from the lungs or works with other structures in the chest as necessary. So the lungs will re-inflate after surgery, one or more catheters (chest tubes) are inserted to drain air and blood from the space between the lungs and chest wall.

Revision Information

  • Conn HF, Rakel RE. Conn's Current Therapy 2001. 53rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2001.

  • Goroll AH, Mulley AG. Primary Care Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000.

  • Lung cancer (non-small cell). American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2014.

  • Learn about cancer (small cell). American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2014.

  • Lung cancer. American Lung Association website. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2014.

  • Lung cancer—for patients. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2014.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Parkridge Health System does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.