three main types of treatment for lung cancer. Your doctor will determine which
type is best for you, based on the type and stage of the lung cancer you have.
Treatments may be used individually, or in conjunction with one another for
more aggressive approaches.
A lung cancer
surgeon (thoracic surgeon) will perform surgery in the early stages of lung
cancer to remove a tumor, surrounding lymph nodes, and tissue. This is called
wedge resection. If the surrounding tissue is found to be cancerous, more of
the lung may need to be removed (segmental resection). If the cancer is
extensive, a lobe of your lung may be removed (lobectomy), or an entire lung
(pneumonectomy) may be removed. This procedure greatly increases the chance of
survival for some cancer types.
of a tumor might cause pain in certain areas of your body. It could also make
breathing difficult. The function of palliative surgery is to remove the tumor
to make you more comfortable.
is referred to as a systemic therapy, because it uses strong drugs to slow or
kill cancer cells throughout the whole body. The drugs can be taken orally, in
pill or liquid form, but are usually administered intravenously. The dosage and
length of treatment varies, but can be prescribed as often as daily, and for as
long as years, depending on the type of lung cancer and your response to the
treatment. The drawback of chemotherapy treatment is that it damages healthy cells as well as cancerous ones and can cause numerous side effects such as hair loss, nausea, and vomiting.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy
rays to reduce or kill cancer cells. Radiation can be focused to specific
areas, decreasing the possibility of damaging healthy cells. The doses are
administered over a period of weeks or months. This can be the main treatment
for some patients, while others will receive it to kill cancer cells that
remain after surgery.
Targeted drug therapy is a newer
treatment. It uses drugs that zero in on defects within the cell that make it
Bevacizumab disables tumor growth by preventing it from
creating a new blood supply. Research has shown that bevacizumab can help
people with advanced lung cancer when it was used in combination with
Erlotinib blocks the chemicals that signal cancer cells to
grow and divide. Erlotinib is used for people with certain cancers who haven’t
been helped by chemotherapy.
care, or comfort care, is suggested when the prognosis isn’t promising and your
chances for recovery are slight. Treatment is aimed at easing any pain and
discomfort of symptoms, rather than stopping the cancer. Supportive care might
include the help of a therapist or social worker to address emotions, along
with pain and symptom management.