Lung Cancer Surgery: A Guide For Patients​

Lung cancer is one of the most common and deadliest forms of cancer in Australia, impacting thousands of lives every year. It is a significant health issue that has called for continuous research, innovative treatment methods, and comprehensive patient education. In this post, we’re going to focus on the role of surgery in lung cancer treatment.

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer begins in the lungs and may spread to lymph nodes or other organs in the body. It primarily occurs when cells in the lungs develop errors (mutations) in their DNA. These mutations cause the cells to grow and divide at an uncontrolled rate, leading to the formation of a tumor. If left untreated, these cancerous cells can spread beyond the original tumor to other parts of the body.

Lung Cancer in Australia

Australia has a significant incidence of lung cancer. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, lung cancer is the fifth most common cancer but ranks highest in terms of mortality. Smoking is the most common risk factor, but non-smokers can also develop lung cancer.

Understanding Lung Cancer Surgery

Surgery is often considered the best option for early-stage lung cancer, where the disease has not spread beyond the lungs. The principal goal of surgery is curative intent, by removing the tumour and the surrounding lung tissue that may be affected by the lung cancer.  Understanding the different surgical techniques and procedures can help demystify the treatment process for lung cancer.

There are several types of surgery used to treat lung cancer:

Once the type of lung resection is determined, the next step is to decide on the surgical approach. Two main approaches are used in lung cancer surgery: Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) and Thoracotomy.

Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS)

VATS is a minimally invasive surgical technique used to diagnose and treat lung cancer. This technique uses a thoracoscope (key-hole camera). It is inserted through small, key-hole incisions in the chest, allowing the surgeon to visualise and operate on the lung thereby avoiding a large incision.

VATS lung surgery offers several benefits:


Thoracotomy is a traditional surgical approach where the surgeon makes a larger incision in the chest to access the lungs. This approach gives the surgeon a direct view and more room to work, which can be beneficial in complex cases or when the tumor is large or centrally located.

Here are some key points to consider about thoracotomy:

Making the Right Choice

The choice of procedure and surgical approach depends on several factors, including the size, location, and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health and lung function.  The goal is always to choose the approach that will provide the best outcome and quality of life for the patient.  


Understanding the role of surgery in lung cancer and the different approaches used can help navigate your treatment journey with greater confidence. It’s crucial to maintain an open dialogue with your healthcare team, ask questions, and express any concerns or thoughts you might have. 

You are not alone in this journey.  If you or your loved one is seeking trusted expertise regarding lung cancer treatment, please arrange an appointment with Dr Cheng He, Gold Coast consultant cardiothoracic (heart and lung) surgeon.  Together with a multi-disciplinary specialist lung cancer team, Dr He will support you every step of the way.

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Dr Cheng He

For all appointments

Phone (07) 5353 2000
Email [email protected]
Fax (07) 5353 2001
Mail PO Box 179, Griffith University QLD 4222

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Arrange you consultation

To make an appointment with Dr He please contact us via phone, e-mail or fax.

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Your consultation

During the initial consult a detailed medical history and physical examination will be performed. Treatment options will be discussed with you. Dr He will help explain the risks and benefits of each option so that you’re empowered to make the next step.

On the day of your consultation, please bring:

Arrange your consultation

To make an appointment with Dr He please contact us via phone, e-mail or fax.

Most outpatients will have a referral letter from their general practitioner or medical specialist. If you do not have one we can guide you through this process. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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