A conservative approach to the surgical management of lung cancer was urged at the fifth National Cancer Conference by Richard H. Overholt, MD, thoracic surgeon, New England Deaconess Hospital and New England Baptist Hospital, Boston, and director of the Overholt Thoracic Clinic.
"Without surgical resection, the patient is doomed," Overholt said, "but it is pointless to hasten this demise or increase suffering by ill-advised exploration. We feel there is a definite place for palliative resections in eliminating masses that are the cause—or potential cause—of disabling symptoms, such as cough, bleeding, pain, infection, and necrosis."
The type of resection carried out should depend entirely upon the operative findings, according to Overholt. Extensive disease may require radical resection, but limited disease should rarely require it.
"For localized lesions, lobectomy is as good an operation for cure as pneumonectomy and carries somewhat less risk," Overholt added. "For disease which has extended to regional