Lung Cancer Surgery Complications

Updated at: Jul 13, 2012
Lung Cancer Surgery Complications

Complications of lung cancer surgery can range from minor risks to major risks. The severity of complications depend on an individual's health and pre-existing ailments.

Gunjan Rastogi
CancerWritten by: Gunjan RastogiPublished at: Jul 13, 2012

Surgery is the most resorted treatment method for lung cancer. A lung cancer patient receives either one of the three lung cancer surgeries, namely, segmentectomy, lobectomy and pneumonectomy depending on the severity of the cancer or stage. Like any other surgery, lung cancer surgery has complications that can either be minor or severe. Learn the risks of lung cancer surgery before you opt for it.

Minor Complications

Lung cancer surgery often results in minor complications that do not cause any threat to the patient’s life, but can interfere with his healing process. According to a study published in the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, about 22 per cent of patients, who have had lung cancer surgery, suffer minor complications. Some of the minor complications of lung cancer surgery may include the following.

  • Air Leak— This is the most commonly experienced symptom and often takes 3 to 5 days to heal.
  • Nausea and Vomiting— Due to the medications and surgical process, the patient may feel lethargic.
  • Minor Infections— Prolonged hospital stay can be a potent reason for minor infections.
  • Minor Bleeding or Bruising- Surgical treatment of lung cancer often results in bruises and bleeding.
  • Abnormal or Painful Scar Formation— The surgery may leave permanent scar marks on the skin.
  • Allergic skin reaction to dressings— Skin infections can be prevented if dressings are changed frequently and the hygiene of the patient and his/her clothing are taken care of.
  • Skin  Numbness— This may result due to insertion of needles or surgical procedure.


Major Complications

Surgery to treat lung cancer can be aggravating as it may cause extensive damage to the lungs and organs that are in close proximity, such as the heart and kidney. Major complications are life-threatening conditions that at times, may even lead to death. Almost 8 to 9 per cent of lung cancer surgery patients suffer from the life-threatening complications that may be one or more of the following:

  • Severe heart conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, irregular heart rhythm and heart failure.
  • Kidney problems, such as kidney failure.
  • Lung ailments, such as pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung), lobar torsion ( when the lobe of a lung collapses or gets twisted) or lung failure.
  • Bronchopleural fistula, a persistent communication between the pleural space and the bronchial tree present in the lung.
  • Diabetes- may result due to lung cancer medications.
  • Blood Transfusion—i severe cases, blood transfusion may be needed.


People, who are overweight or obese, diabetics, individuals addicted to the use of tobacco products, drug and alcohol addicts and patients, who previously had received surgeries in the same organs or in the nearby organs, are at a higher risk of suffering from lung cancer surgery complications.



Read more articles on Lung Cancer.





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