Treatments of lung cancer depends on a number of factors, including the type of lung cancer (non-small or small cell lung cancer), the size, location, and extent of the tumor, and the general health of the patient. Different treatments and combinations of treatments may be used to reduce severe symptoms to improve quality of life and to control this cancer.
Surgery Options for Lung Cancer
Segmental or wedge resection: An operation to remove a small part or wedge of the affected lung.
Lobectomy: The surgeon removes an entire lobe of the affected lung.
Pneumonectomy: The surgeon removes the entire lung.
Some patients are unable to undergo surgery for other health reasons and some tumors are inoperable (cannot be removed by surgery) because of the size or location. For now, surgery is the only treatment that offers an ultimate cure. However, only half of patients with this cancer in lungs are strong enough to be considered surgical candidates.
Medications Used For Lung Cancer
Chemotherapy: An anticancer drug that is used to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used to control cancer growth or to relieve symptoms. If it is used just to control symptoms, it is a palliative treatment. Even after the cancer has been removed from the lung, the cancer cells might still be present in nearby tissue or somewhere else in the body.
Radiation or Radiotherapy Therapy: High-energy rays to exterminate the cancer cells to a limited area and only affect cancer cells within that area. Radiation treatment can also be used before undergoing surgery to minimize the tumor, or after surgery to wipe out any cancer cells remaining in the treated area.
Radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy is often used as a primary or first treatment instead of surgery. Radiation treatment can also be used to relieve other symptoms such as shortness of breath or pain.
Prophylactic Cranial Irradiation (PCI): This treatment is given to prevent secondary tumors from forming in the brain. Some patients may have this radiation treatment to the brain even though cancer may not have yet been found.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT): Laser therapy involving a specific chemical injected into the bloodstream and absorbed by cells in the tissues and organs of the body. The chemical quickly disperses from normal cells but stay longer in the cancer cells. A laser is then aimed at the cancer, which activates the chemical into killing the cancer cells.
When the cancer cannot be removed through surgery, photodynamic therapy might be used to decrease symptoms of lung cancer such as controlling bleeding or relieving breathing problems due to clogged-up airways. Photodynamic therapy can also treat smaller tumors in those patients whom usual treatments for lung cancer are not suitable.
Clinical trials: Evaluations of new ways to treat cancer. Sometimes trials are an option for many lung cancer patients to receive treatment not yet in the open market – treatments of lung cancer.