About 13% of all new cases of cancer in the United States are lung cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that that there will be over 228,000 new cases of the disease diagnosed in the US this year alone, with more than 142,000 individuals losing their lives to the disease this year as well. The disease has a particularly high mortality rate: every year, more individuals succumb to lung cancer than to breast, prostate, and colon cancers combined.
While early stage lung cancer is generally asymptomatic, signs may crop up once the disease has reached an advanced stage. Symptoms of advanced stage lung cancer may include:
- Bone pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Hoarseness of voice
- Shortness of breath
- A new, persistent cough
- Coughing up blood (even in small amounts)
If your doctor suspects you may have lung cancer and finds a suspicious nodule or other type of mass, they may perform a procedure known as a lung resection. There are three major types of lung resection:
- Wedge resection: a piece of the lung is surgically removed
- Lobectomy: an entire lobe of the lung is surgically removed
- Pneumonectomy: the entire lung is surgically removed
The type of lung resection you receive will depend on the problem at hand, and a surgeon may even be able to perform the procedure via minimally invasive techniques.
Lung wedge resection, in particular, involves removing a small wedge-shaped piece of lung tissue to help diagnose lung cancer. It’s considered a great procedure for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in particular, which sometimes needs the removal of small cancer cell lesions called lung nodules. It can be performed as long as the nodules aren’t buried deep inside of the lung tissue.
A wedge resection is also the preferred treatment route for individuals who wouldn’t be able to tolerate the removal of a large portion of their lung–in other words, it can be a viable alternative to a lobectomy. Wedge resections are often done as a complementary therapy to radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.