Existing and Emerging Treatments for Lung Cancer
A plethora of new treatments for lung cancer are being tested in ongoing clinical trials. While several promising methods of detection and therapy should be available to the public in the next few years, doctors still rely on existing methods for the best results in the general population.
Doctors prescribe a handful of treatment methods depending on the stage of the patient’s cancer. There are specialties within each option, but all stem from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Lung surgery may be performed for stage 1, 2 or 3 non small cell carcinoma (NSCLC) patients. Prior to the operation, patients are tested for good lung health and other abnormalities.
Depending on the severity of the cancer, a triangular wedge of affected tissue, an entire lobe, or an entire lung will be removed.
Chemotherapy is usually the first line therapy for advanced small cell carcinoma and the second line therapy for NSCLC. Radiation therapies may be used in conjunction with either of these methods to precisely target and shrink a tumor. This method is often used when a malignant growth is in the brain or located near or in a vital structure of the body.
Oncologists implement other cancer-fighting technologies when appropriate. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is the process of heating and killing malignant cells with RF current. The current travels through a needle inserted into the tumor. RFA may not require general anesthesia and is a quick procedure.
The opposite of RFA is cryosurgery, where malignant cells are frozen to death. Also know as cryoablation, it a new process that is still being tested. A more widely used treatment option is laser surgery.
The intense light from a laser is precise and powerful enough to kill cancer cells. Unfortunately, this precision is best for palliative care. Radiologists use this therapy to alleviate symptoms associated with the disease.
Ongoing clinical trials are testing cures for lung cancer in a variety of populations. Trials are available for specific gene pools, certain types of carcinomas and different age and lifestyle groups. Although participants may experience side effects, all trials are protected by heavy international regulations.