page-up-arrow
page-down-arrow

Was this page useful?

*Required Field
Rating *
Rating            

SJHH / Health Services/ Chest Program/ Thoracic Surgery/ Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

 Lung Cancer

What are the types of Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is classified as either small cell carcinoma or non-small cell carcinoma depending upon how the cells grow, where they are located, and the likely cause of the cancer. For the most part, non-small cell lung cancer is a slower growing cancer than small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer and is the type of cancer that could potentially be treated surgically, while small cell lung cancers will usually be diagnosed when the disease has already spread and hence surgery is rarely considered for those cancers.

How is Lung Cancer diagnosed?

There are a few different tests that can be performed in order to determine if a patient has lung cancer. A chest x-ray can be taken to see if there is an obvious mass within the lung(s). A bronchoscopy can be performed to examine the patient’s airways for any abnormalities or signs of tumours, and to obtain a sample of tissue (biopsy) from the lungs. This tissue can be further analyzed to see if there are any cancerous cells present.  A computed tomography (CT) scan can be taken of the chest to see what the inside of a patient’s lungs looks like. This picture is able to identify any tumours that may be present.

What are the Stages of Lung Cancer?

There are four main stages that lung cancer can be classified as being. These stages depend upon how far the lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The staging number that lung cancer receives will affect how successful the treatment will be. Stage one indicates that the lung cancer is contained within the lung and has not spread yet. Stage two means that the lung cancer is large and/or has spread to the nearby lymph nodes. Stage three indicates that the cancer has spread to the tissue surrounding the lungs, usually lymph nodes. Stage four means that the cancer has spread to the other lung and/or other parts of the body.

How is Lung Cancer treated?

Treatments for lung cancer include chemotherapy, which uses drugs to kill cells that grow rapidly, and radiation therapy that uses radiation to damage the cancerous cells and prevent them from growing. Although these two treatment methods provide beneficial results, surgical treatment of lung cancer has the most successful outcomes. The type of lung cancer surgery varies depending on the location and stage of the lung cancer present. Surgical procedures for lung cancer vary from removing a piece of the lung to removing the entire lung. Occasionally, there will be a need to perform other surgical procedures to investigate the lymph nodes in the chest prior to deciding that surgery is the most appropriate way to treat the patient.

What are the risks of Lung Cancer surgery?

The risks of lung cancer surgery depend upon the stage of lung cancer, the current health status of the patient, and any genetic or lifestyle risk factors that may impact the surgical procedure and recovery. The risk of surgery is unique to each patient and every precautionary measure is taken in order to ensure the most successful treatment and recovery possible. Active smoking at the time of surgery is considered a significant risk factor.

How long will it take to recover from surgery?

Recovery from lung cancer surgery is different for every patient since the surgical procedure and life style and/or genetic risk factors that may slow the recovery process are different for every individual. It will take a few months before an individual is able to fully resume full regular activity, but most patients will be able to perform nearly all daily activities within 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Esophageal Cancer

What are the types of Esophageal Cancer?

Esophageal cancer is cancer of the esophagus that typically causes difficulty swallowing as one of the first symptoms. There are two main types of Esophageal cancer: Squamous cell cancer usually occurs when cancerous tumours are located in the upper part of the esophagus, and Adenocarcinoma occurs more commonly when cancerous tumour cells are located at the bottom of the esophagus.

How is Esophageal Cancer diagnosed?

Esophageal cancer is diagnosed with the use of an Esophagogastroduodenoscopy; a special scope that is used to see inside the gastrointestinal tract and to obtain samples of tissue (biopsies) for further analysis. Computed tomography (CT) can also be used to see if the cancer has spread to nearby tissues and/or organs. Other tests, such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan and Endoscopic Ultrasound can also be used to determine the degree of spread.

What are the Stages of Esophageal Cancer?

The stages of Esophageal cancer is used to describe how deep the cancer occupies the walls of the esophagus, whether the cancer has spread to nearby tissues, and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Stage 0 indicates that abnormal cells are in the inner layer of the esophagus. Stage 1 describes the cancer as grown through the inner layer of the esophagus and into the submucosa (connective tissue in the esophagus). Stage 3 indicates that the cancer has spread to nearby structures. Finally, Stage 4 means that the cancer has spread to distant organs. Lymph nodes are commonly involved in esophageal cancer and will be part of the staging of the cancers.

How is Esophageal Cancer treated?

There are different treatment methods for Esophageal cancer depending on the stage of the disease, the condition of the patient, and patient genetic and/or lifestyle risk factors that may affect treatment outcomes. Treatment methods include chemotherapy (uses drugs to kill cells that grow rapidly), radiation therapy (uses radiation to damage the cancerous cells and prevent them from growing), and surgery. The amount of esophagus and surrounding tissue that is surgically removed depends upon where the cancer is located and how far it has spread. In most cases, surgery might provide the most successful treatment options.

What are the risks of Esophageal Cancer surgery?

The risks of esophageal cancer surgery depend upon the stage of cancer, the current health of the patient, and any genetic or lifestyle risk factors that may impact the surgical procedure and recovery. The risk of surgery is unique to each patient and every precautionary measure is taken in order to ensure the most successful treatment and recovery possible.

How long will it take to recover from surgery?

Recovery from esophageal cancer surgery is different for every patient since the surgical procedure and life style and/or genetic risk factors that may slow the recovery process is different for every individual. It will take a few months before an individual is able to fully resume regular activity.

Mediastinal Tumours

What are the types of Mediastinal Tumours?

Mediastinal tumours are masses in the mediastinum (the area in the chest between the lungs) that are usually caused by the spread of lung cancer. Tumours that originate in the mediastinum are classified as primary tumours (most common are Thymoma). Secondary tumours (most common are lymphomas) are those that start in other organs (such as the esophagus, trachea, stomach or lung) and spread to the mediastinum.

How are Mediastinal Tumours diagnosed?

There are a few different methods used to identify mediastinal tumours including: chest x-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the chest, and Mediastinoscopy. A chest x-ray, CT scan and MRI takes a picture of the chest to determine if there are any tumours present in the mediastinum. A Mediastinoscopy is a surgical procedure during which a special scope is used to remove a sample of tissue to be taken for further analysis. You may have one or more of these tests to determine if you have a mediastinal tumour.

How are Mediastinal Tumours treated?

Treatment of mediastinal tumours depend upon the type of the tumour and its location. Doctors treat mediastinal tumours with radiation therapy (uses radiation to damage the cancerous cells and prevent them from growing), chemotherapy (uses drugs to kill cells that grow rapidly) and surgery. The outcomes of the treatment options vary since different tumours respond differently to each treatment option.

What are the risks of Mediastinal Tumour surgery?

The risks of mediastinal tumour cancer surgery depend upon the type and location of the tumour, the current health of the patient, and any genetic or lifestyle risk factors that may impact the surgical procedure and recovery. The risk of surgery is unique to each patient and every precautionary measure is taken in order to ensure the most successful treatment and recovery possible.

How long will it take to recover from surgery?

Recovery from surgery for mediastinal tumours is different for every patient since the surgical procedure and life style and/or genetic risk factors that may slow the recovery process is different for every individual. It also depends on the type of tumour and the precise location and invasion into adjacent tissues. It will take a few months before an individual is able to fully resume regular activity.