5 posts tagged “surgery”

Life after lung cancer surgery: 5 recovery tips from patients

Posted 2 weeks ago by

PatientsLikeMe members have talked in the forums about what it’s like to recover from lung cancer surgery – and what most doctors don’t tell you. We’ve gathered some helpful post-surgery hints members have shared. (Hint: Join PatientsLikeMe for access to the Lung Cancer Forum.)

Many members have mentioned that the side effects of a lobectomy or other lung surgery can be more intense than they expected. “I had a right upper lobectomy 2 years ago – still have lots of pain and numbness – bras suck!” one member says.

“The surgeon wasn’t very informative and my doctor, bless his heart, hasn’t ever had a patient like me so doesn’t really know what’s normal and what’s not,” says another member. “I’m very thankful for this site, I have learned a lot from it.”

What can help?

  • Finding the right bra. Wear a looser sports bra, an old bra (without underwire) or a stretchy camisole with soft cups, to give some breast support but nothing too restrictive.
  • Setting yourself up for sleep. Stomach sleepers will need to get used to sleeping on their back or (maybe) side. Sleeping in a recliner, or using pillows or foam wedges to find a decent position in bed, can help you catch some Zzzs.
  • Treating your incision with care. Cold or rainy weather, and even chilly air-conditioning, can make scars extra sensitive, so try to stay warm and dry. One member advises applying vitamin E and unscented skin cream to help with healing.
  • Managing your pain. Members report using prescribed pain meds, Lidocaine patches, pain-relief ointment (like Icy Hot) and heating pads to deal with some of the pain.
  • Taking it easy. Go “very slow in the beginning,” says one member. “Resting on your back a lot, taking short and slow walks, not twisting the body, not carrying (heavy) things, not running, taking the stairs slowly… With these things, I was OK eight months after my operation. But I’m still very careful…”

Another word to the wise? Ask your doctor right away about any symptoms you’re not sure are normal, such as breathing issues, coughing or bleeding.

On PatientsLikeMe, more than 50 people have reported having surgery as part of their lung cancer treatmentLung lobectomy is the most commonly reported type of surgery, followed by pneumonectomy and lung wedge resection (click on these links to see treatment reports — logged-in members have access to more information).

Also, check out our recent write-up on some newer and less invasive procedures for lung cancer.

Have you had lung cancer surgery or will you be undergoing this procedure soon? Join our patient community or log in to see what else members have shared about recovering from lung cancer surgery.

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CyberKnife, VATS + other surgical and less invasive treatments for lung cancer

Posted 5 months ago by

Surgery is among the most common treatments for people with lung cancer. Let’s take a closer look at various types of surgery for lung cancer, as well as emerging non-surgical and minimally invasive treatments, like CyberKnife or “SBRT,” cryosurgery and “VATS.” Huh? Read on… we’ll explain.

Common types of lung cancer surgery

Before we explore some of the newer and less invasive treatments, let’s review the most common surgical treatments for lung cancer these days. These are the most frequently reported treatments on PatientsLikeMe (to access the links below, join the community or login):

  • Lung lobectomy – In this procedure, a surgeon removes the entire lobe of the lung that contains a tumor. The right lung has 3 lobes, and the left lung has 2 lobes. See members’ evaluations of this treatment here.
  • Lung wedge resection – This procedure involves removing a small, wedge-shaped portion of the lung (containing cancer), along with a certain amount of healthy tissue that surrounds the area. See treatment evaluations here.
  • Pneumonectomy – Also called “radical pneumonectomy,” this means surgically removing an entire lung. Read treatment reports here.
  • Lung segment resection – This procedure usually removes more than a wedge resection would but not the entire lobe of the lung. See treatment reports here.

Check out additional treatment evaluations for other specific treatments such as bronchial sleeve lobectomy and lobectomies by location in the body (see the “See also”section for details on upper, middle, lower, left and right lung lobectomies). Also, see forum discussions about lung cancer surgery and tips for recovering from surgery.

VATS, CyberKnife and cryosurgery

Now, let’s explore some of the newer and lesser-known or less invasive treatments. Keep in mind, not everyone is a candidate for these procedures (Cleveland Clinic outlines some reasons why — such as extensive spreading of cancer or prior chemotherapy treatment), so talk with your physician(s) and consider seeking a second opinion to find the treatments that will work best for you.

  • VATS – This stands for “video-assisted thorascopic surgery,” and some forms of it may also be “robotic-assisted.” Most lung cancer surgeries involve a thoracotomy (usually a 10-inch surgical incision). But VATS is like a laparoscopy for the lungs — a minimally invasive procedure where the surgeon uses tiny instruments and a fiber-optic video camera threaded through multiple half-inch incisions, rather than one large incision. Surgeons are increasingly using VATS whenever possible, but rarely for pneumonectomy or some types of resections that require a larger incision, Everyday Health reports.
  • Cryosurgery – This procedure involves inserting a bronchoscope through the trachea and into the lungs, and then using a probe to freeze tumor tissue and remove it. Patients with very advanced disease or poor lung function may be a candidate for this, if doctors determine they’re not a good fit for surgery.
  • CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery, or “SBRT” – Contrary to the sounds of something with “knife” and “surgery” in the name, CyberKnife treatment is not actually surgery. This is a type of radiation therapy that may be an alternative to surgery. The general name for this procedure is stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), and CyberKnife is a brand name of the technology that may be used (see this video for some more info).
  • During SBRT or CyberKnife treatment, highly focused beams to deliver radiation to a pinpointed area, with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue. A few PatientsLikeMe members have evaluated this treatment and discussed it in the forum. Some researchers say that SBRT is “a well-established treatment option for early stage non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors < 5 cm.”

One member with adenocarcinoma says she had five treatment sessions with SBRT. “The five treatments were given on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and on Monday, Wednesday of the following week. I had absolutely no problems with the radiation. The only minor problem was laying in a form that was molded to your body with your arms extended above your head for about 45 minutes.”

Have you had any of these procedures or do you have any questions about upcoming treatments? Join PatientsLikeMe to connect with and learn from other patients with lung cancer.

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