Treatment strategy for primary lung cancer in a lung highly compressed by giant emphysematous bullae: A case report

Lung Cancer

Thorac Cancer. 2020 Nov 11. doi: 10.1111/1759-7714.13739. Online ahead of print.


Lung cancer sometimes develops on the wall of a giant emphysematous bulla (GEB). Herein, we describe a rare case in which lung cancer developed in lung tissue compressed by GEBs. A 62-year-old man underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan that revealed two right GEBs. A tumor was suspected in the highly compressed right upper lobe. Since the right bronchus was significantly shifted toward the mediastinum, it was difficult to perform a bronchoscopy. We inserted thoracic drains into the GEBs, and

a subsequent CT scan revealed re-expansion of the remaining right lung and a 3.3 cm tumor in the right upper lobe. The shift of the right bronchus was improved, and bronchoscopy was performed. The tumor was diagnosed as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Additionally, the GEBs were found to have originated from the right lower lobe. We performed a right upper lobectomy, mediastinal lymph node dissection, and bullectomy of the GEBs via video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery. In preoperative evaluation of a GEB, assessing re-expansion and lung lesions of the remaining lung is important, and intracavity drainage of a GEB may be useful. KEY POINTS: Significant findings of the study Cancer that develops in lung tissue highly compressed by a giant emphysematous bulla is difficult to diagnose. In the preoperative evaluation of a giant emphysematous bulla, assessing re-expansion and lung lesions of the remaining lung is important. What this study adds After performing intracavity drainage of a giant emphysematous bulla, the remaining lung re-expands, and the bronchial shift improves; subsequently, bronchoscopy makes it possible to diagnose lung cancer in the remaining lung.