How Thoracic Surgeons Help Michigan Patients Battle Lung Cancer

Author: Sherry Farney

When it comes to lung cancer, a team of doctors gives patients their best chance to beat it. Oncologists often work with thoracic surgeons, who play a vital role in removing lung cancer. Thoracic surgery is currently the preferred treatment of lung cancer.


The thoracic experts at McLaren Flint perform lung, trachea, esophagus, pleura, mediastinum (the tissue between the lungs), diaphragm, and chest wall surgical procedures. Those procedures include chest surgery for lung disease and cancer, and diseases in the chest wall and esophagus including swallowing problems.

 According to the American Lung Association, “minimally invasive thoracic surgery is a way of performing surgery in the chest through small incisions,” instead of making large cuts in the body, and does not require spreading apart the ribs. Instead, “surgeons use a camera and instruments to get to the lung through small incisions in between the ribs.” One method of this kind of surgery is called video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). At McLaren Flint, surgeons use VATS for pleurodesis (attaching the lung to the chest wall), lung biopsy, resection, and pneumothorax (collapsed lung) procedures.

“VATS is a preferred technique in removing lung cancer,” said Shrey Patel, MD, board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon at the Michigan Heart Valve Institute at McLaren Flint. “We insert a small scope with a camera through an incision between the ribs. This gives us access to the entire chest cavity without having to open up the entire chest. Through a few small incisions we can successfully remove the cancerous lung tissue and lymph nodes.”

Other thoracic surgical procedures performed at McLaren Flint include lung resection, lung biopsy, and pneumothorax. This is performed to alleviate air around or outside of the lung which is putting pressure on it. Additional procedures include thoracotomy for removing all or part of a lung, empyema drainage to remove infection from a lung, Mediport catheter insertion for the use of medications to treat the lungs as well as the removal of the catheter, and wedge resection/removing a portion of the lung, usually a tumor.

“It is extremely important for patients battling lung cancer to work with both an oncologist and a thoracic surgeon to ensure the best chance of removing the cancer,” said Anup Sud, MD, board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon at the Michigan Heart Valve Institute at McLaren Flint. “We work together to come up with a treatment plan to address each patient’s individual needs. This allows us to decide what thoracic surgical procedure is the best fit for removing a particular type of cancer.”

To learn more about McLaren Flint’s cardiothoracic surgeons and treatment options, visit McLaren Flint’s thoracic surgeons work closely with the oncologists at the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint to decide the best way to remove and treat the cancer.