Health Alert: VATS for lung cancer

NATIONAL - Doctors performing lung cancer surgery can cut out the cancer without cutting through your muscles and chest wall. For patients, it's a recipe for recovery that's faster and less painful.

64-year-old Myrna Powell loves to travel. Her home is full of mementos from exotic locales, but a persistent cough threatened to derail her globe-trotting ways.

"If my daughter were in a department store with me, she'd always find me, because she could hear the cough," said Myrna.

Even though she had never smoked, Myrna had early stage lung cancer.

"The only good part of the news was, they said it had a high rate of cure. I wouldn't need chemotherapy or radiation," she said.

Doctor Walter Scott removed her cancer with a minimally invasive technique, similar to laparoscopic surgery. It's called "VATS."

Dr. Scott explained that "the initials stand for Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery. So, it's a way of performing the usual cancer operation with small incisions."

During surgery, the patient is lying on their side. A video camera is inserted into one of several small incisions made low on the side of the chest. Using small, specialized instruments, the doctor operates without spreading the patient's ribs.

Dr. Scott says, "The patients have less pain then and we find that they go home sooner."

Myrna was out of the hospital in three days.

She felt so good she planned an extensive tour of Asia with her husband just a month after surgery.

"I did quite well with all the walking and climbing up hills. I really feel great," she said.