Newswise — Surgery to remove localized tumors is the only reliable way to cure lung cancer, the most prevalent cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women. The most common operation performed to remove these cancers is a lobectomy (removal of an anatomic portion of lung). Thoracic surgeons at Rush University Medical Center perform the largest number of these operations of any surgical group in Chicago and in most cases use minimally invasive techniques that speed recovery.

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has recognized this expertise by designating the Rush Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery a three-star program for lobectomy. It is the society’s highest rating and only is bestowed on the top five percent of thoracic surgery programs in the United States.

The rating is based on outcomes data the Society of Thoracic Surgeons received from Rush for the period from July 2011 through June 2014 in comparison with similar data the society has received from other participating programs. The three-star designation reflects the following outcomes of nearly 900 lung surgeries that the department’s members performed over the reporting period:

A 0.3 percent 30-day mortality after lobectomy for lung cancerAn average hospital length of stay of 4.2 days after lobectomy for lung cancer

Both results are significantly better than national averages for these outcomes. This success reflects the program's expertise in video-assisted thorascopic surgery (VATS), a minimally invasive procedure that can reduce pain and recovery times compared to open chest surgery. The department employed VATS for 74 percent of the lobectomies the team performed for stage I lung cancer.

“Our three-star rating firmly establishes the lung cancer surgery program at Rush as one of the best in the nation,” says Michael Liptay, MD, chairperson of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery.