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Lung Cancer Surgery

At the Abramson Cancer Center, we're constantly pushing lung cancer treatment standards forward. We remove cancers using the least invasive methods possible — so you can recover faster and have a good quality of life. Our thoracic surgeons have the expertise to handle even the most complex surgeries.

Why Choose Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center for Lung Cancer Surgery

We are a high-volume thoracic surgery program. Lung cancer surgeries are what we do every day. We have the processes and systems in place to make your experience safer, less stressful and more successful.

These advanced procedures are routine for us. That means you avoid the intensive care unit (ICU) and get back on your feet fast. You also benefit from:

  • Experienced thoracic surgeons: Our surgeons completed the highest level of thoracic surgery training (fellowship training) at some of the country's best hospitals. They have successful surgical track records that cover decades of medical practice. Their uncommon subspecialty expertise means we can handle even the hardest-to-treat lung cancer cases.
  • Robust clinical research program: Our investigators actively conduct research that benefits both today's and tomorrow's patients. Their discoveries mean your surgeons use the latest and most advanced surgical techniques, and you have access to promising new treatments.
  • Advanced technology: We use the latest technology to create treatment plans and perform lung cancer surgeries. We regularly upgrade our CT scanners — machines that play a critical role in diagnosing lung cancer — to ensure that the image quality is as clear and sharp as possible. It makes a difference: In certain variants of lung cancer, we can identify and remove additional cancerous tissue that is often missed by less advanced imaging.
  • Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols: We are at the forefront of improving post-surgical care. Our ERAS protocols help patients recover faster — most patients walk within 60 to 90 minutes of their operation. They also allow us to reduce the use of narcotics while more effectively managing pain.
  • Convenient locations: You can schedule your surgical consultation at one of our many locations across Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We also offer lung cancer surgery at three different downtown Philadelphia locations. You can visit the Abramson Cancer Center location nearest you for follow-up appointments and additional treatment.

Improving Outcomes With TumorGlow®

Our thoracic surgeons are testing a new intraoperative imaging technique called TumorGlow. TumorGlow is a way to better see undetected tumors during surgery.

TumorGlow uses an injected dye that makes cancer cells "glow" when under near-infrared light. Surgeons use it in cases where lung nodules are small and hard to find.

Learn more about TumorGlow technology

Francie's Lung Cancer Journey: "[The tumor] glowed like the Emerald City."

Joining the TumorGlow clinical trial saved Francie Howat's life. The intraoperative technology revealed a previously invisible — and aggressive — second lung cancer tumor. Read Francie's story.

Lung-Sparing Surgery

Lung-sparing procedures, such as sleeve lobectomy, save part of your lung while removing the cancer. Former smokers who are living with conditions like emphysema benefit from these types of surgeries.

Lung-sparing surgery offers the highest quality of life possible. We are among the few institutions in the Philadelphia area able to perform these procedures.

Other Types of Lung Cancer Surgery

Our thoracic surgeons deliver surgical outcomes that are better than the national average. They've also developed new surgical procedures to treat previously inoperable lung cancer. They perform a wide range of lung cancer surgeries, including:

  • Sublobar resection: Your lungs have sections called lobes. The left lung has two lobes and the right one has three. Sublobar resection removes part of a lobe.
  • Lobectomy: Lobectomy removes a whole lobe of the lung.
  • Wedge resection: Wedge resection removes a tumor and some of the normal tissue around it. When a slightly larger amount of tissue is taken, it is called a segmental resection.
  • Pneumonectomy: This surgery removes one whole lung.
  • Sleeve resection: This surgery removes part of the bronchus (an airway in the lungs).

Read more about our Center for Precision Surgery and the surgeries we offer at the Abramson Cancer Center, including minimally invasive and robotic surgery.

Surgery to Remove Mediastinal Masses

The mediastinum is the area between your lungs, which includes your heart, esophagus, trachea, blood vessels and nerves. The front part of the mediastinum, just behind your breastbone (anterior mediastinum), is a common location for tumors.

Traditionally, the only way surgeons could remove mediastinal masses was through sternotomy. Sternotomy is a surgery that involves making a large incision in the patient's breastbone.

Our thoracic surgeons can remove most mediastinal masses using robotic surgery. Robotic-assisted surgery:

  • Uses specialized instruments that give surgeons greater control and the ability to perform more complicated procedures
  • Uses a 3D, high-definition camera system that helps your surgeon better visualize and remove the tumor from your surrounding body structures
  • Involves three quarter-inch incisions, leading to less pain and complications and a faster recovery

What to Expect During Your Lung Cancer Surgery

Before Surgery

The Day of Surgery: Before, During and After Surgery

During Your Recovery