Less Invasive Lung Cancer Surgery

FRESNO, Calif.

Linda Salvati embraces every second of life…

She's a survivor and is not going to waste any of the time she's been given.

Linda's one of 196,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer last year. One hundred and fifty-eight-thousand died from it – including her father.

But Salvati is one of a growing number of lung cancer patients who never smoked.

"Somehow, I thought if you did not smoke, you would not get lung cancer," Salvati told Ivanhoe.

She's had one of the lobes of her lung removed by a VATS lobectomy.

"We don't cut muscle. We don't spread the ribs open, so patients hurt quite a bit less," Robert McKenna, Jr., M.D., chief of thoracic surgery, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles, Calif., told said.

Doctors make several small incisions in the chest. A scope with a camera on the ends guides the surgeon to the tumor. Here, a lobe is being cut away from the lung. A bag is inserted though the hole.

"We put the lobe into a bag and pull it out through that small incision," Dr. McKenna explained. Ninety-five percent of lobectomies at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center are done by VATS.

"People wondered, can you really do the same operation? Can you take out lymph nodes the same way? Are you going to have cancers come back?"

Dr. McKenna explained.

A study just released shows 84 percent of patients had no complications. Four percent needed a blood transfusion after surgery and less than one percent died.

There were fewer infections, and the length of the hospital stay was three days -- down from a week with traditional surgeries.

Eighteen months out, Salvati is living a cancer-free life.

"I find a lot of joy, every day in a lot of things," Salvati told Ivanhoe.

Research shows smoking is attributed to about 90 percent of lung cancer deaths among men and about 80 percent among women.

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