NCCN Cancer Answers: Lung Removal
How do most people cope after the removal of a lung, or part of a lung?
Nature gives people more than they need. That’s why people can donate kidneys and have a normal life. In the same regard, if you’ve taken good care of your lungs, you can lose a whole lung and have reasonably normal life. It might affect you if you’re a professional athlete, but if you start off with fairly healthy lungs, you won’t have much of a problem.
Of course, most people who get lung cancer smoke, and have already sustained some lung damage. That’s why patients undergo breathing tests to determine whether they are candidates for lung surgery. We offer surgery only to people who can get by with a reduced amount of lung afterward.
We can’t always guarantee that everyone will be able to breathe as well as they did beforehand, but many times we can.
Answer provided by:
Todd Demmy, MD
Chair of Thoracic Surgery
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Buffalo, New York