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Office of the President

A Message to the University Community from President Joel Seligman

May 6, 2014

On May 23, I will have surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital to remove a small nodule from the periphery of my right lung. The surgery will be conducted by Dr. Thomas Watson and involves a VATS procedure (video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery). This surgical procedure is very safe. Dr. Watson and the other doctors I have consulted anticipate that I likely will be away from work for a few weeks and then will make a full recovery. As is usual while I am away, Provost Peter Lennie will be in charge during my absence.

At all relevant times, I have been asymptomatic, without any pain or loss of energy.

Since 2007, the doctors monitoring my non-Hodgkins Lymphoma have been aware of a small nodule in the periphery of my right lung. This was not felt to be part of the non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, which was successfully treated seven years ago. Until a recent CT/PET scan they did not consider this a matter that necessitated a medical or surgical procedure. It was small and not apparently growing. In the 2012 and 2014 scans, it has grown to its current size (16 mm X 10 mm), or about one half of an inch. It is still a small nodule, which two doctors have termed “indolent” because of its slow rate of growth.

The best practice is to remove the nodule at this time. The one real risk with this type of nodule is that it might be malignant and if it is not removed it could grow and potentially metastasize. 

Even if the nodule is malignant, given its very small size, slow growth rate and its peripheral location, the likelihood of recurrence or distant spread is quite small.

The surgery itself is safe and likely will take one to three hours, inclusive of a microscopic assessment of the nodule after it is removed. 

All doctors to whom I have spoken agree on two key points: (1) Neither the surgery nor the nodule is life threatening and (2) I can anticipate a full recovery after a period of time with little or no impact on my energy or ability to function. The bottom line, as articulated by one doctor, is that this is a significant but manageable procedure, far less concerning than the 2007 non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.