What are the benefits of lung resection for people with lung cancer?

Surgical lung resection, in which part of a lung is removed, can be a safe and effective treatment option for high-risk patients with early stage lung cancer. At three years’ post-surgery, researchers found that 59% of high-risk patients were still alive, and 76% of standard-risk patients had survived.

The research team identified 490 patients who underwent surgical resection for early stage lung cancer from 2009 through 2013. The patients were classified as standard risk (310 people) or high risk (180 people), based on previously published criteria.

The researchers evaluated outcomes and survival following surgery and found that the overall length of hospital stay was longer for high-risk patients (five days) compared to standard-risk patients (four days), but there was no difference among the two groups in post-operative mortality (2% for high-risk patients; 1% for standard-risk patients).

Importantly, about 20% of the patients had cancer that had spread to their lymph nodes, a finding that was unexpected based on the pre-operative imaging tests. This group of patients was able to undergo chemotherapy, which is an important adjunct treatment for their cancer stage. This spread of cancer to the lymph nodes would not have been discovered and accordingly treated through a non-surgical approach.

This shows that surgical resection is an acceptable treatment option with good results for patients with early stage lung cancer who have been identified as high-risk for surgery. High-risk patients have a new treatment avenue that previously may have been denied to them. A multidisciplinary team should review each case to determine the best treatment plan for individuals with lung cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.