Patient's Guide for Thoracic Surgery

We understand that choosing a surgeon to treat your condition can be a daunting task. We take this decision-making process seriously and want to provide you with the tools necessary to ensure that you make the best choice for your care and treatment, whether it's at Cedars-Sinai or elsewhere. The following information was created as a general guide to help you develop confidence that the surgeon you choose will provide you with the best outcome possible.

What to expect on your first visit:

If you have them, you should bring your records and x-rays, including CT scan pictures for your initial consultation. The surgeon should review your history and physical examination and your records. The discussion should include diagnostic options, treatment options, and any next steps for you to consider. This would be a good time to discuss any specific treatment recommendations or any tests that the surgeon would order before making a definitive recommendation.

Questions to ask your surgeon:

  • Are you board-certified in Thoracic Surgery?
  • What is my diagnosis?
  • If this is cancer, what is my stage?
  • Do I need more tests?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the risks of those treatments?
  • What are the outcomes for those treatments?

What to look for in a surgeon:

A skilled thoracic surgeon will always opt to minimize their patient's discomfort by using minimally invasive procedures whenever possible. Your surgeon should be comfortable with providing this as an option but patients should understand that excellent medicine is personalized to each individual patient and not every patient will qualify for minimally invasive procedures.

In general, the standard operation for lung cancer is removal of a lobe of the lung and many lymph nodes. There are times when the entire lobe will not need to be removed and patients should understand that the scope of this discussion is quite complicated and varies from person to person. There are multiple factors which determine the extent of a lung resection and these factors will impact the surgeon's decision about the best course of treatment for you. Your surgeon should be willing to discuss these issues at length during your consultation and you should feel comfortable asking questions.

The ideal response should be that the surgeon converts less than 10% of cases to an open chest operation.

The surgeon should perform the removal of lymph nodes from at least 4 different areas in the chest when the operation is performed for cancer.

Supportive Services

The Division of Thoracic Surgery in cooperation with the Lung Cancer Program offers supportive services along with the treatment plan. These services include:

  • Behavioral medicine
  • Nutrition
  • Pain management
  • Palliative care
  • Social work