Sunday, April 7, 2024

Lung Cancer Surgery Recovery Time

What Are The Risks Of A Lobectomy

How Long Does Lung Cancer Surgery Take?

All procedures have some risks. The risks of this procedure may include:

  • Air in the space between the lung covering that causes the lung to collapse

  • A tube-like opening between the airway and pleural space that causes air or fluid to leak into the chest

  • An area of pus in the chest cavity

  • Fluid in the space between the lung and inner chest wall

Your risks may vary depending on your general health and other factors. Askyour healthcare provider which risks apply most to you. Talk with him orher about any concerns you have.

How Long Pain Lasts

Expect to have some pain after lung cancer surgery. In the first few days after the procedure, it may hurt most in the area around your incision, as well as in your chest and arm. You might also feel a twinge when you move your arm or breathe in deeply. If youve had thoracic surgery, you may also experience pain at the chest tube site.

Your doctor should send you home with pain medication. Take them as prescribed to relieve any discomfort you experience.

How long the pain lasts is different for each person. Some people continue to have soreness or tightness around their incision for a few months. Over-the-counter pain relievers and gentle exercises can help you feel better while you heal.

What Is Robotic Lung Surgery

Robotic lung surgery was introduced in 2002. When its used to treat lung cancer, its called robotic assisted thoracic surgery .

Robotic lung surgery involves a cart with three or four robotic arms and a console that allows the surgeon to manipulate the arms.

Sitting at the console, the surgeon looks down at a high-resolution, three-dimensional magnified image. They then manipulate the arm and camera with simple hand movements. A computer translates these movements to the tools in the operative field.

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Other Things That Could Affect Surgery

Tobacco: If you smoke, your surgeon may ask you to stop before surgery. Using tobacco tightens blood vessels and reduces the supply of oxygen to your body tissues. Smoking can delay healing and recovery. It can also increase the risk of complications after surgery.

Diet and alcohol: Being overweight or obese may affect surgery and recovery. Your surgeon may ask you to improve your diet, lose weight, or actively exercise before surgery. You may be advised to stop drinking alcohol, too.

Medications: Often the surgeon will ask you to stop taking certain medications, such as anti-inflammatory pain medications and blood thinners. This is because those medications can increase your risk of bleeding during the surgery.

Other drugs: Be sure to tell your doctor and surgeon about all medications, including vitamins, supplements, and marijuana or street drugs you may use. Some of these may lead to problems before and after surgery.

Anesthesia history: You will probably be asked if you or your family members have had problems in the past with anesthesia. This is because there are things that can be done to prevent problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and being overly sleepy after getting anesthesia.

What Happens During Surgery

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Before your operation, your medical team at the hospital gives you medicine through a vein called general anesthesia. It makes you go to “sleep” and keeps you from feeling pain.

Once youâre unconscious, your surgeon typically uses one of two techniques to reach your lung:

Thoracotomy. They make a large cut between your ribs in the side of your chest or your back.

Video-assisted thoracic surgery . They make one to four small cuts in your chest. Then they insert a tiny camera to see images of your lung while they operate. Some surgeons do VATS by controlling a robot, which can help them make more precise movements with their surgery tools.

VATS is a less invasive type of surgery that is used when possible for the treatment of early-stage NSCLC. Recovery from this type of surgery is usually quicker than with traditional surgery.

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Managing Pain After Thoracic Surgery

You will have some pain after your thoracic surgery. At first, youll get your pain medication through your epidural catheter or IV line. Youll be able to control your pain medication using a PCA device. Once your epidural catheter or IV line is removed, your care team will teach you how to give yourself pain medication through your feeding tube.

Your healthcare providers will ask you about your pain often and give you medication as needed. If your pain is not relieved, tell one of your healthcare providers. Its important to control your pain so you can use your incentive spirometer and move around. Controlling your pain will help you recover better.

Youll get a prescription for pain medication before you leave the hospital. Talk with your healthcare provider about possible side effects and when to start switching to over-the-counter pain medications.

What Are The Types Of Surgery For Nsclc

In general, your surgeon removes some or all of your lung with cancer in it. The extent of removal depends on the size of the cancerous tumor, where it is, and how far it has spread. Your surgeon may discuss one or more of these options with you:

Lobectomy. Your lungs are made of parts called lobes. Your right lung has three lobes and your left lung has two. A lobectomy removes the lobe that has a cancerous tumor in it. Doctors like to do this type of surgery whenever possible for NSCLC.

Segmentectomy or wedge resection. These are two kinds of surgeries that remove part of a lobe. Your surgeon might choose to do either of them if they think removing an entire lobe would stop your lung from working well.

Pneumonectomy. Your surgeon removes the lung that has cancer in it. You may need this operation if your tumor is close to the center of your chest or if a lobectomy wouldnât get rid of it.

Sleeve resection. This usually involves your surgeon removing a cancerous lobe and part of a large airway called a bronchus, which goes from your windpipe into your lung. You have two of these airways, one for each lung. The surgeon then attaches the main part of the bronchus to the part that remains in a healthy lobe. They may do this operation instead of a pneumonectomy if they think it could help you breathe easier.

Like all surgeries, lung cancer operations come with risks. Ask your doctor about the possible side effects and complications of any surgery they recommend for you.

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When Is Robotic Surgery For Lung Cancer Used

Robotic surgery for lung cancer is used primarily for stage 1 or 2 non-small cell lung cancer .

With stage 1 or 2 NSCLC, the lobe of the lung that contains the tumor can usually be removed robotically. This procedure is called a lobectomy. If only a segment of a lobe needs to be removed, a wedge resection is performed.

Robotic surgery can also be used after neoadjuvant therapy if theres any remaining tumor to be removed.

With later stages of NSCLC, the cancer has usually spread beyond the lungs. This rules out robotic surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are better options to treat more advanced cancer.

If the entire lung must be removed, a surgeon will perform a pneumonectomy. This procedure cant be performed with robotic lung surgery. Instead, a large incision is needed to remove the lung.

Minimally Invasive And Traditional Procedures

What to Expect After Lung Cancer Surgery

Our thoracic surgeons study the cancer and assess your health before deciding how to proceed with surgery. We take two common approaches to lung cancer surgery:

Minimally invasive surgery: The surgeon makes a few small incisions and uses a camera and specialized instruments to perform the surgery.

Thoracotomy: The surgeon gains access to your lung by making an incision on the back and side of your chest and gently spreading the ribs.

At UCLA Health, we use minimally invasive surgery for lung cancer whenever possible. As a high-volume thoracic surgery program, our surgeons routinely use advanced techniques such as video-assisted thoracic surgery and robot-assisted thoracic surgery . Both approaches offer superior precision with the benefit of less pain and quicker recovery time. Our goal is to safely and quickly improve your quality of life.

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A Fast Recovery From Lung Cancer Surgery

It was the biggest shock of my life, says Phyllis Rosenberg, a 91-year-old grandmother of two from Shrewsbury, New Jersey, about her lung cancer diagnosis last year. Phyllis is not a smokershe remembers the last time she had a cigarette was in collegeand she hadnt been exposed to regular secondhand smoke since her husband quit in 1963.

Last year, she visited her doctor for bronchitis and was told that if her symptoms didnt clear up from antibiotics, she should get a CT scan. That CT scan revealed a mass in her lungs, so she was referred to Frank Arlinghaus, M.D., a pulmonologist at Riverview Medical Center. After examining her, Dr. Arlinghaus determined Phyllis needed a biopsy, which confirmed that she had non-small cell lung cancer in her left lung. She was referred to Ziad Hanhan, M.D., a thoracic and esophageal surgeon who specializes in lung surgery.

Should You Get Screened For Lung Cancer

Lung cancer screening has been shown to reduce mortality, but it is not necessary for everyone. If you have a history of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, you might wonder if you should get screened.

According to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, you should have a low-dose computed tomography scansometimes called a low-dose CT scanannually if you:

  • Have a history of heavy smoking, and
  • Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, and
  • Are between 55 and 80 years old

Heavy smoking is defined as a history of 30 pack-years or more. A pack-year is a history of smoking a pack of cigarettes per day for one year. So if a person smokes two packs a day, it would only take them 15 calendar years to achieve a 30 pack-year level.

If you meet these criteria, contact your doctor and ask if screening is right for you, Dr. Hanhan says.

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Getting Ready For And Recovering From Cancer Surgery

Having surgery can be an overwhelming experience – not just the surgery itself, but the process of getting ready to have surgery, as well as recovering afterwards. But it’s not always as difficult as you might fear. Your experience will depend on many things, including the type of cancer you have, the type of operation being done, and your overall health. Knowing what to expect and being prepared can help. It’s important to:

  • Learn as much as you can beforehand
  • Ask questions so you know what to expect
  • Understand that each person’s situation is different

Study Design And Participants

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This single-center prospective cohort study was conducted in accordance with the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology guidelines . All consecutive adult patients who were scheduled for lung surgery at our department between November 2018 and June 2019 were approached for inclusion in this study. Patients were eligible if they had smartphones and were comfortable using the messenger application WeChat for completing the symptom-related surveys, either by themselves or with the help of at least one close relative. Digital consent was obtained after the patients agreed to connect their accounts with our departmental public service account on WeChat by scanning a quick response code. All patient information was strictly confidential and was used for research purposes only. This study conformed to the provisions of the Declaration of Helsinki , and was approved by the institutional Ethics Review Committee of the Shanghai Chest Hospital .

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Removing A Small Part Of The Lung

Sometimes the surgeon removes a very small amount of a lobe of the lung. This operation is sometimes called a sublobar resection or a wedge resection. You may have this operation if:

A segmentectomy is another type of operation that removes a slightly larger part of the lung than a wedge resection.

From Chest X Ray To Ct Scan

Wednesday, Mo got a call from the nurse explaining that the radiologists saw something suspicious on the X-ray and sent her for a CT Scan. The concern was great enough that it was scheduled for the following day, Thursday.

On Friday, while driving home from work, Mo received a call from her doctor. In the time it took her to pull over to take the call, she had missed it. She called right back and was surprised that her doctor answered the phone right away.

We need to have a discussion. The CT scan came back with a very suspicious spiculated mass, meaning it has uneven edges. It could be cancerous.

Mo nearly dropped the phone. This was not the news she was expecting to receive. Shocked, she only wanted to know if it was a death sentence.

It could be, but I dont think it is.

With a promise to regroup on Monday, the doctor told her to go home and relax. That night, having decided to keep the news to herself for a few days, Mo first went out to dinner with friends. It wasnt until she arrived home that she allowed herself a little pity party, consumed with fear and the what-ifs that lay ahead.

And then she gave herself a strict talking to and told herself to:

Pull myself up by the bootstraps.

And she did.

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Each Patient Is Different

Because each individual presents with a unique health history and lung cancer characteristics, it’s best to recognize that surgical treatments and recovery expectations will also vary for each person. If you find yourself facing a recommendation for one of these surgeries, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll want to inquire about surgery time, duration, and post-surgical hospital care. Ventilators and chest tubes after surgery can cause anxiety for some individuals, but knowing what to expect ahead of time can help them prepare mentally. Also, inquire about any potential risks for post-op infections or complications and preventative measures. Having your cancer care team guide you through each step of surgical treatment and post-op care management can help reduce the anxiety and anticipation.

Filling Out Your Recovery Tracker

Enhanced recovery after lung surgery guidelines

We want to know how youre feeling after you leave the hospital. To help us continue caring for you, well send questions to your MyMSK account every day for 10 days after you leave the hospital. These questions are known as your Recovery Tracker.

Fill out your Recovery Tracker every day before midnight . It only takes 2 to 3 minutes. Your answers to these questions will help us understand how youre feeling and what you need.

Based on your answers, we may reach out to you for more information or ask you to call your surgeons office. You can always contact your surgeons office if you have any questions. For more information, read About Your Recovery Tracker.

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When To Call The Doctor

  • Fever of 101°F , or higher
  • Incisions are bleeding, red, warm to the touch, or have a thick, yellow, green, or milky drainage coming from them
  • Pain medicines do not ease your pain
  • It is hard to breathe
  • Cough that does not go away, or you are coughing up mucus that is yellow or green, or has blood in it
  • Cannot drink or eat
  • Your leg is swelling or you have leg pain
  • Your chest, neck, or face is swelling
  • Crack or hole in the chest tube, or the tube comes out

Recovery By Type Of Surgery

There are several types of lung cancer surgery that can be performed, depending on your overall health and the size and location of the tumor. The type of lung cancer will also come into play in recovery times. The recovery times will typically vary with the type of surgery and other factors.


During a lobectomy, the lung lobe that contains the tumor is removed. This is the most common type of surgery used to treat lung cancer, and is preferred for treating non-small cell lung cancer specifically.

In most cases, a lobectomy is performed using a thoracotomy. This method involves opening the chest and spreading the ribs to get to the lung. Because itâs an invasive approach, recovery times will be longer than other techniques. In some cases, VATS may be used as a less-intensive surgery option for a lobectomy.


A pneumonectomy involves the removal of the entire lung that has the cancer. A pneumonectomy is an intensive procedure that involves open surgery, and your thoracic surgeon will likely have to spread your ribs apart to get to the lung. Recovery time often takes weeks to months.

After a pneumonectomy, you will only have one functional lung. Most people can live well with just one lung, but your activity level may be affected for a few months after surgery. If you previously smoked and have chronic bronchitis or emphysema, you may experience some shortness of breath with some activities.

Sleeve Resection


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What Happens During A Lobectomy

The procedure almost always needs an inpatient stay. This means that it maybe done as part of a longer stay in the hospital. The way the procedure isdone may vary. It depends on your condition and your healthcare provider’smethods. In most cases, the procedure will follow this process:

  • You will be asked to remove your clothes. You will be given a hospital gown to wear. You may be asked to remove jewelry or other objects.

  • You will lie down on an operating table.

  • An IV line will be put into your arm or hand.

  • You may be given antibiotics before and after the procedure.

  • You will be given general anesthesia. This is medicine that prevents pain and lets you sleep through the procedure.

  • A breathing tube will be put into your throat and hooked up to a breathing machine . Your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing will be watched during the procedure.

  • A soft, flexible tube may be put into your bladder. This is to drain urine during the procedure.

  • Hair in the area of surgery may be trimmed. The skin in the area will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution.

  • A cut will be made on the front of your chest at the level of the lobe to be removed. The cut will go under your arm around to your back.

  • When the ribs can be seen, a special tool will be used to spread them apart. The lung lobe will be removed.

  • One or more tubes may be put into your chest. These are to help remove air and fluid after surgery.

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