Surgical palliation of airway obstruction resulting from lung cancer

R B Lee
Seminars in Surgical Oncology 2000, 18 (2): 173-82
Bronchogenic carcinoma remains a relentless plague of modern society causing far more deaths than the well-popularized "AIDS epidemic" and secondary only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death in America. Despite medical advances and treatment breakthroughs, only 40% of newly identified lung cancer patients are "potentially curable". Therefore, a large portion of this patient population will require palliative care and treatment. Surgical palliation is somewhat a misnomer in that most endobrachial lesions causing significant obstruction that result in dyspnea are not amenable to surgical intervention, i.e., operative resectional therapy. The palliative management options of airway obstruction resulting from advanced stage lung cancer will be reviewed, including the historical aspects, development and current use of laser resection, airway stenting, and endobrachial brachytherapy for management of unresectable airway tumors. These modalities frequently are used simultaneously in the same patient and may be used in conjunction with current chemotherapeutic and conventional external-beam radiation protocols.


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