A pneumonectomy is a surgical procedure to removal a lung, usually as a part of lung cancer treatment. Recovery after a pneumonectomy can take some time, as the remaining lung gradually takes on more work and builds greater capacity. In the weeks following surgery, pneumonectomy patients may gradually take on non-strenuous activity. Patients who do not experience postoperative complications may be able to return to work that is not physically demanding within eight weeks, though a majority of pneumonectomy patients struggle with dyspnea, or shortness of breath, for as long as six months after surgery.

In addition to a pneumonectomy, other surgical options for patients undergoing lung cancer therapy include a lobectomy to remove a lobe of a lung, a wedge resection to remove a small part of the lung, and a sleeve resection where a portion of the bronchial tube is removed, after which the lung is reattached the part of the bronchus that remains.

Patients requiring a pneumonectomy or other therapy for lung cancer can receive the most advanced treatment at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Learn more about pneumonectomy and other treatment options for lung cancer.

State-of-the-art pneumonectomy procedures at Brigham and Women's Hospital

Brigham and Women's Hospital combines leading-edge research with world-class treatment to help patients fight and defeat cancer. We offer patients access to leading cancer specialists and the latest therapies, as well as the kind of compassionate care that makes a difference for patients facing cancer diagnosis and treatment.

In addition to pneumonectomy, Brigham and Women's Hospital offers many innovative procedures, including:

  • Cryoablation and radiofrequency ablation, which are new image-guided approaches that destroy tumor cells using heat or cold
  • Stereotactic radiotherapy, an advanced radiation technique that is an effective option for some inoperable tumors
  • Photodynamic therapy, which involves injecting photosensitizing chemicals into the bloodstream that which collect in cancerous cells; the chemicals can later be activated using an endoscopic procedure to direct a laser at the tumor cells

Patients at Brigham and Women's Hospital work closely with a team of specialists to develop a personalized treatment plan. This plan may include surgical options such as pneumonectomy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and also includes support services for the patient's physical and emotional needs, such as pain management, emotional counseling, nutritional advice and integrative therapies like Reiki and acupuncture.

Clinical trials to find pneumonectomy alternatives

Because Brigham and Women's Hospital is a leading research institution, patients may participate in clinical trials designed to identify promising new cancer drugs. Many trials study "targeted therapies" – drugs that have a potent effect on cancer cells but with side effects that are milder than traditional chemotherapy. With the right drugs, the hope is to avoid a pneumonectomy and preserve lung function.

Learn more about Pneumonectomy and Lung Cancer Treatments at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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