525 East 68th Street, M-404
New York, NY 10065
263 7th Avenue, Suite 4H
Brooklyn, NY 11215
56-45 Main Street, Suite WA100
Flushing, NY 11355
2625 East 14th Street, Suite 201
Brooklyn, NY 11235
Surgery to remove tumorous tissue is the most effective treatment for early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The procedure may involve removing a section of a lung or an entire lung, depending on the size and location of a tumor.
Until recently, the standard approach for the surgical treatment for lung cancer was “open surgery,” which included a large incision that spreads the ribs (thoracotomy). This technique is associated with postoperative pain and lung complications, including pneumonia.
Minimally invasive surgical options
At Weill Cornell, we use minimally invasive surgical approaches in 90% of patients—such as video-assisted thoracoscopy (VATS) or robotic techniques—for patients with operable lung cancer.
Thoracoscopic lobectomy (VATS): Telescopes placed through small incisions in the chest and abdomen are used to visualize the lung, and small instruments are passed between the rib spaces to manipulate and remove the lobe.
After a thoracoscopic lobectomy, most patients need to stay in the hospital for only two to three days. They typically achieve improved breathing function earlier than they would have following open surgery, as a result of this less invasive and less painful procedure. Patients who have thoracoscopic lobectomy also usually require fewer pain medications than those who have traditional, “open” surgery.
Lung cancer surgery expertise at Weill Cornell Medicine
Our patients benefit from:
• The most advanced techniques in surgical procedures including robotics, which enables greater magnification and more precision
• Access to state of the art genetic testing of patient tumor to determine best approach for further treatment if necessary
• Access to the latest clinical trials for all stages of cancer condition
• Multi-disciplinary approach (collaboration among surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, gastroenterologists, and pathologists) tailored to the unique needs of each patient
We recommend visiting the Weill Cornell Medicine Cardiothoracic Department website, as well as the National Cancer Institute and the Lung Cancer Research Foundation.
Once you and your care team decide that surgery is the best treatment plan for your condition, you will schedule a pre-surgical appointment at M404.
During your pre-surgical appointment:
• Your nurse practitioner will explain what you can expect for your specific surgery and hospital stay
• Your nurse practitioner will review your current medications
• You will sign a consent form for the surgery and potential blood transfusion (Please note: Most patients do not receive blood transfusions during surgery, but we are required to have you sign this consent form, just in case you do need a transfusion and are not awake at the time to give your consent. ALL blood is stringently tested for HIV, hepatitis, and cytomegalovirus.)
• You have the opportunity to ask questions
• You will receive a small bottle of antibacterial soap
This process generally takes two to three hours.
You will be given instructions as to which medications you should stop taking to prepare for surgery.
On the night before your surgery, shower using half of the bottle of antibacterial soap. On the morning of the surgery, before you come to the hospital, shower using the rest of the soap.
Do not eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery. You may take your medications that the nurse practitioner approved you to take the morning of surgery, with just a small sip of water.
Parking is available in front of the 68th Street circular entrance to the hospital. There are also several parking garages in the immediate area.
Parking is only validated on the day of your hospital discharge, not on the day of your pre-surgical appointment.
Please be sure to bring your:
• Insurance card(s)
• Pajamas, robe, and slippers
Generally try not to bring too much to the hospital, because you probably won't use a lot of these things and will just have to carry them home.
Please do not bring any jewelry or expensive electronics with you for the first hospital day. Your family and friends are welcome to bring those items once you are awake and in your room.
Please check in at Greenberg 3-West (Same-Day Surgery Unit), which is on the third floor of the Greenberg Pavilion, using the "G" elevators.
If you are the first case, please check in at 6 a.m. If you are the second case, please check in at 10 a.m.
During your surgery, your family and friends should wait in the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute Atrium. Please tell them to check in at the front desk so that they can be contacted when your surgeon calls.
If the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute Atrium is closed at the time of your surgery, your family and friends may wait in the smaller waiting area right outside the Cardiothoracic ICU (4-West).
There is also a café on the first floor of the hospital, directly opposite the information desk and down the hall from the front door on the left, which is open at all times. This café sells coffee, tea, and a variety of food.
Pain in and around the incision may last up to several weeks. It is also very common to experience numbness around the incisions as well.
You will be given specific instructions about how to best care for the incisions. It is important to keep the wounds clean; normal soap and water is best for this care.
You can resume driving six weeks after your operation. Your physician will evaluate if you are ready to fly at your follow up appointment.
You will likely feel tired for a few days after the operation. We recommend taking short naps and trying to stay awake during the day as long as possible so that you can rest fully at night.
Exercise: Continue to use the incentive spirometer (the blue "ball machine") for the first week or two after you get home, approximately four to five times each day. Two weeks after surgery, you should be doing enough physical activity to stop using the machine.
Try to walk for 20 minutes twice a day when you come home, and slowly increase the frequency and duration of your exercise. You will slowly increase your endurance and energy level.
Diet: For the first one to two months after surgery, eat as much as you can without regard to salt and fat intake. In general, anesthesia will decrease your appetite, so it is important to eat as much as you can during this time to help your body to heal.
If you were on a special diet (such as a low-carbohydrate, diabetic, or kidney diet), continue following this diet after you feel that your appetite has recovered. Your care team will work with you to help determine the best diet to optimize your health.
Please see Insurance Questions or call (212) 746-5161.