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The Evolving Role of Surgery in Lung Cancer

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Published on July 10, 2015

Dr. Malcolm DeCamp, a panelist at the LUNGevity Live: Hope, Education and Patient Power town meeting held at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, examines the evolving role of surgery in lung cancer.  Surgery is no longer the limited option it used to be.  Surgical roles now include early, accurate staging, tissue collection for molecular analysis to examine personalized approaches, and supportive care stages. Watch, as Dr. DeCamp, a renowned thoracic surgeon, helps patients understand how to activate their extended care network by connecting with strong organizations that provide authentic tools along your cancer journey.

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Transcript | The Evolving Role of Surgery in Lung Cancer

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.   

Susan Leclair:

Hello and welcome.  I'm Dr. Susan Leclair, and with me today is Dr. Malcolm DeCamp, the chief of thoracic surgery at Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University. 

There's been a lot of changes in the way we look at lung cancer, the way we treat lung cancer.  There was a time when surgery was a very limited option.  What's going on now? 

Dr. DeCamp:

Well, it's an exciting time in lung cancer, and it's an exciting time to be a surgeon in this field, because there's a role for surgery in almost every stage of disease.  As you alluded to, it used to be a minority of patients, maybe one in five, had their disease discovered early and could have it removed surgically. 

Now there's a role for surgery in the early diagnosis, in the accurate staging, in obtaining tissue for molecular and genetic analysis to come up with personalized and precision ways of taking care of cancer even in advanced stages.  And then in those patients with disease that we're not going to cure surgically there is a role for surgery in relieving suffering and improving quality of life even in the later stages.  

Susan Leclair:

A far cry from the earlier one shot and you're done.  

Dr. DeCamp:

Sure. 

Susan Leclair:

There's a lot of activity, as I said, across the whole spectrum of lung cancer.  Patients want information, and obviously they want reliable information.  Where can they turn to get that information?  How do they develop a kind of support network for themselves in this regard? 

Dr. DeCamp:

Sure.  That's a great question and something that we try to review with all our patients when we see them.  There's a tremendous amount of information out there in the web that is sort of unedited and unregulated. So I clearly recommend to patients that they go to reputable sites to get their information such as the American Cancer Society, the NCCN, organizations like LUNGevity and other lung cancer advocacy groups that provide information that's gleaned from the medical literature. 

I'm a little leery of blogs and personal experiences, which are valid from the patient's perspective of what they experienced. But in terms of understanding the explosion of knowledge that's really occurring right now in lung cancer, I think folks should focus on the published evidence.  And it's too broad for an individual to go out and do a PubMed search of the medical literature, so, again, I would refer them back to some of these larger organizations that can distill all that complex information for them into bite?sized chunks that are easier to understand. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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