Robert J. Cerfolio, MD, MBA, director, Lung Cancer Center, chief, clinical thoracic surgery, discusses the impact of minimally invasive surgery in the management of non–small cell lung cancer.
Robert J. Cerfolio, MD, MBA, director, Lung Cancer Center, chief, clinical thoracic surgery, NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, discusses the impact of minimally invasive surgery in the management of patients with non—small cell lung cancer.
The technology behind thoracic surgery has dramatically changed over the past few years. Cerfolio says that when he was a fellow, the procedure involved a large thoracotomy, which required steel retractors to spread patients’ ribs. One or 2 muscles would have to be cut with this approach. Cerfolio adds that he did about 9000 of those surgeries, but with the latest advancements, he has not performed a procedure like that in almost 4 years.
Robotics and video-assisted surgery allows for treatment consisting of a small incision, about one-quarter of an inch in size. Patients are able to return almost immediately to their normal lives, sometimes spending only 1 night in the hospital. This experience completely differs from that of traditional surgery, where patients would be in significant pain for weeks, even months, after the procedure. Now, patients are able to return to work in a few days and athletes are able to go back to their normal routine in a little over a week, he says. The mortality associated with surgery has also decreased dramatically from 1% to less than 0.1%, Cerfolio adds.