New Lung Cancer Surgery: Eleanor’s Miracle


WASHINGTON, District of Columbia. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Being diagnosed with lung cancer is frightening for patients and families. Traditional invasive lung surgery to remove the tumor has long meant that the patient undergoes significant post-operative pain and an extended recovery time. Now, minimally-invasive lobectomies of the lung allow 50 percent of lung cancer patients to go home after one day post-surgery.

Lung cancer survivor Eleanor W. Traylor explained to Ivanhoe, “The diagnosis itself is shocking. You know, it’s terrifying.”

Because she was 82 at the time of diagnosis, her doctor advised against surgery, instead suggesting radiation and chemotherapy.

“I just knew that it would be toxic for me and that I couldn’t survive it,” said Traylor.

But Eleanor’s next-door neighbor, an oncologist at the National Institute of Health knew about a groundbreaking technique at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Eleanor got a second chance.

M. Blair Marshall, MD, Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital stated, “We were able with a video camera approach to take out the tumor, take out the airway, and then transplant the lower lobe and middle lobe back on.” (Read Full Interview)

Dr. Marshall, a practicing surgeon for 20 years, continually seeks more efficient, safer ways to operate using a camera smaller than the thumb, extender tools and a good eye.

“Because I work on camera for pretty much 95% of what I do, I’ve … my brain has adapted to the 2D view. I have to go between the ribs and the nerves are there. The smaller the better because the less trauma to the nerves,” said Dr. Marshall.

Because of this minimally-invasive surgery, Eleanor was able to go home just three days post-op and says it is one of the most …

“Miraculous things to happen to surgery and I just thank God for Dr. Marshall who has perfected this thing,” said Traylor.

Minimally-invasive lung surgery is done without an epidural, which impacts blood pressure, but doesn’t impact the chest and ribs like traditional surgery. Dr. Marshall uses nerve blocks for the pain. For more visit

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Field Producer; Tim Matkosky, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: There are three main types of lung cancer, and diagnosis affects a person’s treatment options and prognosis. Non-small cell lung cancer is most common and occurs in about 85 percent of lung cancer cases. Subtypes of this form are squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.  There is also small cell lung cancer, also known as oat cell cancer. About ten to fifteen percent of lung cancers are this form. This form of lung cancer tends to spread rather quickly. Finally, fewer than five percent of lung cancers are lung carcinoid tumors, also sometimes called lung neuroendocrine tumors. Most of these rarely spread, and they tend to grow slowly. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer and is by far the leading cause of cancer death among men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than prostate, breast, and colon cancers combined. Most forms can be prevented, because they are related to first or secondhand smoking. However, some can occur without any known risk factors. It is not yet clear if these kinds of cancers can be prevented. Most lung cancers are already in advanced stages when they are first found, and these are very hard to cure.


TREATMENT: There are different treatment options for patients diagnosed with lung cancer. This may vary depending on the patient, the kind of cancer, and the stage it is at. Lung surgery, or standard thoracotomy, is a procedure where the chest cavity is opened up to allow access to the lungs. An incision is made in the side of the chest and the ribs are spread apart to allow the surgeon operating to remove any cancerous tissue from the lungs. There are several different types of lung surgery options; some include wedge resection and segmentectomy, where the cancerous tissue is removed from the lung. A lobectomy is the removal of an entire lobe from the lung; the right has three lobes and the left lung has two. Finally a pneumonectomy is the removal of an entire lung.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Now, minimally invasive lung cancer surgery is an option for patients. Using a camera smaller than a person’s pinky finger, a surgeon can operate without using traditionally invasive methods. Previously, this has meant that patients needed extended recovery time post-surgery. However, now using this new method, about fifty percent of patients go home on day one. It is done without an epidural, which can impact the blood pressure. Dr. Marshall of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital uses nerve blocks for the pain.

(Source: Blair Marshall, MD)


Marianne Worley

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at


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