Thanks for your question! In addition to responses from the community, there is more information on surgery available here: https://lungcancer.net/treatment/surgery/ Reactions may differ to treatments such as surgery; for tips on managing any side effects after treatment, see https://lungcancer.net/treatment-side-effects/ . Palliative care can also help with side effects: https://lungcancer.net/treatment/supportive-palliative-care/ . It's important to stay in contact with your healthcare team about any new or worsening symptoms or side effects!
I underwent surgery nearly 12 years ago. I had bi-lobectomy, meaning two lobes were removed from my right lung. (We have three lobes in our right lung and two in the left, to make room for the heart.) I had a traditional thoracotomy, which left a large scar on my back. For several years, I was unable to wear a bra due to neuropathy and pain triggered by the part of the bra that wrapped right across my incision area. To this day, that surgery causes me significant discomfort.
Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is minimally invasive thoracic surgery. If I have any regrets about my treatment, it is that I did not undergo VATS. I have spoken to many lung cancer patients who had VATS. Their recovery time was significantly reduced and they do not suffer the long-term effects of a traditional thoracotomy. But few surgeons had that kind of expertise in 2005.
If your thoracic surgeon does not have the expertise to do VATS, consider getting a second opinion from a VATS-trained surgeon. Better yet, consider getting a second opinion from a surgeon who can do robotic surgery.
That being said, not everyone qualifies for VATS. It depends on many factors, such as the location and size of your tumor. If I had to undergo lung surgery again, I would meet with a highly skilled thoracic surgeon qualified to do robotic surgery and VATS. If I do not qualify for VATS or robotic surgery, I would need to hear that from the surgeon who routinely conducts those types of surgeries.
Agree with you totally. Had lobectomy via davinci by the best thoracic robotic surgeon I could find. Recovery was quicker than the regular open chest. It was painful but less so than if my chest had to be cut open. I still endured nerve pain for about six months and periodically it still bothers me, but if you must have surgery for lung cancer and your tumor or nodule is small enough is the way to go. I was one of the lucky ones, it was discovered after an xray for bronchitis.
I had a traditional thoracotomy/ lobectomy. My surgeon attempted CATS but my tumors size and placement made that impossible. I had my right upper lobe completely removed, wedge resection of right lower lobe, and removal of part of a rib. The team did a great job with pain management us in nerve blocks to assist with pain management in the initial weeks following surgery, along with prn oral pain meds for several months after. I'm a year post op and i just have periodic nerve pain that does not cause significant discomfort. Initial recovery immediately following surgery went well, but unfotunately i ended up with significant post surgical complications that were difficult to overcome. I found it vital to trust my treatment team.
Thank you for sharing your experience here FreeSpirits! It is great to hear that you could trust your treatment team, and that they were able to assist with pain management. Thinking of you! Best, Margot, LungCancer.net Team
It's now been 3 years since my right upper lobe was removed via VATS. As in any surgery, there was tremendous pain in the early days, but recovery was faster due to minimal invasion of tissue. No large incisions, as a matter of fact, today I can't even find my scars. I still get pain on deep inhalation at times. If you are facing surgery, don't hesitate to ask about this procedure. At first I went for 4 years being told my lesion was probably benign and cancer would be inoperable or even able to be biopsied due to position. I was able to go to Mayo Clinic and had biopsy done by EBUS, (endobronchial ultrasound) which was done under light anesthesia. There was no pain from this and I was actually able to return to work in 2 days. Since my surgery, I've had two sessions of chemo and radiation which have taken their toll. Mayo Clinic has been my greatest asset through this, but I know there are many other great ones out there. Do your research and don't be afraid to ask questions.
May I ask you how log it took you to recover from vats lobectomy?