Questions like those above come up almost in every consultation with my patients, although there isn’t a one size fits all answer for all patients, we can say that generally when we decide to operate we expect that the patient will be able to return to a good quality of life afterward.
Traditionally recovery after lung resection usually takes up to 3 months, although many patients are able to resume normal activities and be considered for additional treatment (either chemotherapy or immunotherapy) within few weeks.
Again I am asked this a lot. Usually we offer surgery when there is a significant survival advantage. That means that if we manage to eradicate the cancer surgically the patient has a good chance of living his normal life expectancy. Surgery will inevitable impact, in the short term, on the quality of life, but usually this is transient. Modern anesthetic and surgical techniques made possible a recovery that was unimaginable only few years ago.
Surgery is a form of treatment that we offer after thoughtful deliberation in what is a called an MDT, a short form for multidisciplinary team meeting. This is a meeting where many specialists that deal with lung cancer meet regularly and discuss each single case to come to a consensus opinion on what is the best treatment for each individual patient. If you are offered surgery you can be assured that this is going to be the best treatment for you. The best treatment though does not mean the only one. Patients’ a view is extremely important and shared decision making is at the heart of all we do, after all we are going to be partner in care during your treatment. If you don’t want surgery you might be offered other forms of treatment such as stereotactic radiotherapy or, in his fancy commercial name, cyber knife. The name here is misleading as there is no knife as such involved, only high dose radiations targeted onto the nodule in the lung. If you opt to discuss such treatment you will meet a specialist that will go through what it entails in detail.
This is a very interesting question and usually it depends on the stage of the cancer. Usually earlier stages, so far, have not received any additional treatment, but increasingly patients in that category are being offered immunotherapy treatment to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. More advanced stages will almost always need further treatment. This is something that will be discussed at the MDT with the result of the analysis of the specimen removed at surgery. You will then meet an oncologist to discuss options.
One of the advantages of keyhole surgery is that ribs are not spread apart. This reduces dramatically the amount of pain after surgery. Moreover, in my practice, I perform surgery with just one 3cm incision. This particular technique reduces the chance of nerve injury thus further decreasing the post-operative pain. One of the most satisfying things about my job is when patients ask me in the postoperative recovery room if they have been operated on as they don’t feel pain. Thankfully I get asked this question a lot.
There isn’t a particular diet suggested after surgery, the word here is moderation. You can eat pretty much anything you want giving preference to protein rich food (meat, eggs, fish), plenty of fruit and vegetables and trying to avoid un-healthy, prepacked food. Generally speaking anything that swam, ran or grew is good for you.
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