Lung Cancer Surgery

Key Points

  • Surgery is not an option for all lung cancer patients.
  • Surgery involves removing part of or the entire lung.
  • Help prepare for surgery by learning what you can expect and using this worksheet to stay organized.

Lung cancer surgery is an option for some patients depending on the type and stage of their lung cancer. Surgery for lung cancer can remove the tumor along with the diseased part of the lung. Removing the tumor with lung cancer surgery is the most common option when the cancer has not spread.

Surgery may be the first step in lung cancer treatment or used after other treatments. The following surgical procedures are used to treat lung cancer:

Lung cancer Surgical Procedures

Wedge Resection

A wedge resection is the removal of a small, wedge-shaped part of the lung tissue surrounding the cancerous tumor.


Lobectomy is the removal (resection) of the lobe (section) of the lung affected by lung cancer. This is the most common lung cancer surgery. A bilobectomy is the removal of two lobes in the same lung.  The right lung is divided into three lobes; the left lung has two lobes.


Pneumonectomy is the removal of the entire lung affected by cancer. This lung cancer procedure is usually done if the cancer cannot be fully removed with the lobectomy, if there is concern that cancer may have spread throughout the left or right lung or if the lesion is centrally located.

A lung cancer surgery called a sleeve resection is also sometimes done. A sleeve resection starts with the removal of lung cancer tumors. These tumors can be in the main airway (bronchus), part of the pulmonary artery (artery to the lung) or the lobe. The ends of the bronchus are rejoined and any remaining lobes are reattached to the bronchus.

Each type of lung cancer treatment option has possible side effects.

It is important to know the potential side effects and ways to cope with them before beginning lung cancer treatment.

Possible Lung Cancer Surgery Side Effects

Discuss concerns, possible side effects and any effects that you experience with your doctor. Click here to download a list of suggested questions.