According to an article recently published in the journal Chest, the surgical procedure referred to as a lobectomy may help to improve survival compared to a wedge resection in patients with very early lung cancer.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. “Non–small cell” and refers to the type of cell within the lung where the cancer originated. Stage IA NSCLC refers to cancer that has not been detected outside its site of origin. Standard treatment for Stage IA NSCLC often includes surgery.

There are several different types of surgical approaches to Stage IA lung cancer, including a lobectomy and a wedge resection. A lobectomy is the removal of an entire lobe of the lung in which the cancer is present. A wedge resection is a removal of a wedge of lung tissue in which the cancer is present. Researchers continue to evaluate optimal surgical approaches for patients with this stage of disease.

Researchers from Oregon and New York recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate data of patients with Stage IA NSCLC who underwent either a lobectomy or a wedge resection. This data included 289 individuals who underwent surgery between 1993 and 1998 at three different medical centers.

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  • Overall, survival for patients treated with a lobectomy was nearly six years, compared to approximately four years for those treated with a wedge resection.
  • Patients with a cancer size of less than 3 centimeters had an even greater survival improvement if treated with a lobectomy than with a wedge resection.

The researchers concluded that a lobectomy, particularly for cancers less than 3 centimeters, appears to improve outcomes compared with wedge resections for patients with Stage IA NSCLC. Patients with early lung cancer who are to undergo surgery may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits for all different surgical procedures.

Reference: Kraev A Rassias D, Vetto J, et al. Wedge resection vs lobectomy. Chest. 2007; 131:136-140.

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