Lung Cancer


Cancer, specifically lung cancer, continues to be a leading cause of death in the United States and throughout the world. Riverview Cardiac Surgery provides state-of-the-art surgical removal treatment to patients with lung cancer, mesothelioma, sarcoma as well as cancer that has mestastasized to the chest. We work with your oncology team to ensure you receive the proper and best treatment available to meet your needs.

Plainly put, primary lung cancer is growth of abnormal cancer cells that begins in the lungs. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Cancers from other parts of the body may spread to the lungs as well, and this is called metastasis

Image Courtesy of A.D.A.M.

Image Courtesy of A.D.A.M.


One of the reasons lung cancer is so deadly is it rarely shows symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When it becomes more advanced, lung cancer may show the following signs and symptoms:

  • A cough that doesn’t subside
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Bone pain

If you are experiencing signs or symptoms that worry you, make an immediate appointment with your doctor.

Causes & Risk Factors

The majority of lung cancer is caused by smoking. This applies to smokers themselves and people exposed to secondhand smoke.

When you inhale cigarette smoke, carcinogens damage the cells that line your lungs. Over time, the damage becomes irrecoverable and cells begin to act abnormally, allowing cancer to develop.

In addition to smoking and second-hand smoke, the following are the most common causes of lung cancer:

  • Exposure to radon gas
  • Exposure to asbestos and other chemicals
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Genetics


If there is reason to believe you may have lung cancer, your doctor may order a series of tests to rule out the disease or arrive at a firm diagnosis. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Imaging tests
    • X-ray
    • CT scan
  • Sputum cytology
  • Biopsy of your pulmonary tissue

Types of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is divided into two major categories based on the appearance of the cancer cells. Your treatment plan will be largely based on what type of cancer your doctor diagnoses you with.

  • Small Cell Lung Cancer: This type of cancer occurs predominantly in smokers and is less common than non-small cell lung cancer.
  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: This term is used to describe several types of cancer that all tend to behave similarly. Non-small lung cancers include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.

Stages of Lung Cancer

Stage I:        Cancer is limited to the lungs

Stage II:      Cancerous tumor has grown larger than 2 inches in diameter and may have spread to lymph nodes

Stage III:    The tumor may have grown very large and invaded other organs

Stage IV:     Cancer has spread beyond the affected lung to the other lung or to distant areas of the body


Working in close communication with top oncologists, Riverview Cardiac Surgery uses state-of-the-art technology to remove cancerous tissue located in and around your lungs, heart and chest area.

Prior to surgery, your doctor will likely recommend:

  • X-rays
  • Blood and urine analysis
  • Medication
  • Lifestyle changes (special diet, quitting smoking, etc…)

Depending on the location of your cancer, severity and your general health, you may be a candidate for a minimally-invasive video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) procedure. If available, this option allows for less post-op pain and rapid recovery time. In addition to surgery, your oncologist will probably recommend other methods of treatment that will be administered to ensure a successful recovery.

Treatment for lung cancer depends on the type and stage of the cancer. Typically, treatment includes at least one of the following, but usually involves a combination of treatment alternatives:

Stage I:        Surgical removal of cancerous tissue, sometimes used with chemotherapy and radiation

Stage II:      Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapies

Stage III:    Combined chemotherapy and radiation, experimental medicine

Stage IV:     Chemotherapy, clinical trials, experimental medicine, supportive care

Common Surgical Procedures

Riverview Cardiac Surgery commonly performs the following surgeries to remove lung cancer:

  • Wedge resection
  • Segmental resection
  • Lobectomy
  • Pneumonectomy

Many of these procedures can be carried out using minimally invasive thoracic surgery techniques, such as videothoracoscopy.


Because cancer can be such an unpredictable condition, recovery times will vary greatly from patient to patient depending on:

  • The location of the operation
  • Whether or not the patient receives a VATS procedure
  • The patient’s specific stage of cancer and patient’s general condition

In addition, other cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy tend to be particularly hard on the body so if you have, or are currently undergoing these treatments at the time of surgery, it may hinder recovery time.

Your Choice is Clear
Riverview Cardiac Surgery have been trusted by more than 10,000 patients to perform surgery for diseases of the lungs and heart. Call to schedule an appointment.