The only real cure for lung cancer is total resection. Patients who are discovered to have so-called “non-small cell lung cancer without metastasis” (Stage I) are usually referred for lung resection. Most of the patients we see with lung cancer are in the older age groups, usually 65 or older. For some time now some surgeons have been choosing to do limited surgeries, called wedge resections, on these patients in part to try and reduce complications and surgical mortality.

This is a good thought process but data on this approach has shown that patients do not do as well as those that have the entire involved lobe of the lung removed. This surgery is called a lobectomy. The two non-small cell cancers of the lung are adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Limited resection (wedge) was found to be inferior to lobectomy when it came to overall survival of the patient.

This means that, if you are a surgical candidate, lobectomy is the surgical procedure of choice in almost all instances. Limited wedge resection may still have a place in very elderly patients with other serious health problems. The final thought here is, if you have a lung cancer, you need to be evaluated thoroughly before a decision is made on the appropriate treatment strategy.

You do not want a surgery if it will not be helpful. Staging your cancer is important. It answers the questions about what is the best therapy and what to expect going forward.