When lung cancer is found early, before it has spread beyond the lungs, people usually have surgery to remove the tumor. For more than 25 years, the standard of surgical care for such patients—even those with very small tumors—has been to remove the entire large section, or lobe, of the lung that contains the tumor. This is done to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back.
But some lung surgeons have suggested that certain patients may do just as well or even better with an operation to remove only part of the affected lobe.
Now, results of a large international clinical trial show that, for certain people with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), surgery to remove a piece of the affected lobe is as effective as surgery to remove the whole lobe.