VATS Versus Open Surgery for Lung Cancer Resection: Moving Beyond the Incision

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Surgery remains the primary therapy in the treatment of early-stage lung cancer. Traditionally, anatomic resection via open thoracotomy has been the conventional approach, but as experience with minimally invasive lung surgery has increased, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgical (VATS) lobectomy is being performed more commonly for treatment of lung cancer. Proponents of VATS have argued that thoracoscopic resection for lung cancer is not only safe but is also superior to the open approach. VATS enthusiasts even have proposed that this approach should be the standard of care and a metric for quality in lung cancer surgery. Such zeal for promoting a “preferred” technique, however, obscures focus from other time-proven, but perhaps less fashionable, factors that have a tremendous impact on quality and lung cancer outcomes, namely cancer staging and quality of cancer surgery. Rather than debate incisions, thoracic surgeons should advocate for specialty care and surgical quality that assures the best short- and long-term outcomes for patients, regardless of the surgical approach.

Correspondence: Douglas E. Wood, MD, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 356310, Seattle, WA 98159-6310. E-mail: dewood@u.washington.edu
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