Surgical excision of lung cancer is usually indicated in early stage lung cancer, sometimes in combination with chemotherapy and radiation. Depending on the location of the tumor, the size of the tumor, and how good the lung function of the patient is, different types of lung resection may be recommended. The mainstay of lung cancer surgery is lobectomy, or removal of a lobe of the lung. A lobe is usually between 10-25% of the lung. This, as well as other types of lung cancer surgery, can be done through a thoracotomy (incision between the ribs), with thoracoscopy (using three small incisions and a video camera, also known as VATS), or using robotic-assisted surgery.
Lymph nodes within the chest are typically removed at the time of surgery.