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Dr. Wallen on Surgery in Patients With Advanced Lung Cancer

Jason M. Wallen, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCP, associate professor of surgery, division chief of thoracic surgery, director of gastric and esophageal cancer program, medical director of the thoracic oncology program, Upstate University Hospital, discusses the role of surgery in patients with advanced-stage lung cancer.

Jason M. Wallen, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCP, associate professor of surgery, division chief of thoracic surgery, director of gastric and esophageal cancer program, medical director of the thoracic oncology program, Upstate University Hospital, discusses the role of surgery in patients with advanced-stage lung cancer.

The role of surgery beyond early-stage disease is mostly palliative, Wallen says. Surgery tends to drop off the treatment radar as patients transition into stage III and IV disease, although there are some cases where this type of therapy is an option in stage III disease. With that being said, patients with stage III lung cancer who undergo surgery should not expect dramatic benefit. In these settings, chemotherapies, targeted therapies, and immunotherapies have become the standards of care.

As lung cancer becomes more advanced, symptoms may arise that are difficult to control with chemotherapy alone, or patients may progress despite systemic therapy, Wallen adds. In these cases, surgeons can be called upon to help, especially with regard to pleural effusions, which occur when fluid builds up around the lung causing it to collapse.

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