If you are experiencing lung cancer symptoms or if you have recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, it is important for you to understand your treatment options. The type and stage of lung cancer that you have will help determine treatment methods that you should receive. Your overall health will also be a factor in determining the type of treatment that you should be given. Lung cancer treatment options include radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, or a blend of these various options.
Radiation therapy is administered via external-beam radiation primarily. A patient-specific treatment plan is developed and is based on each patient’s overall health as well as the stage and type of lung cancer that they are dealing with. Chemotherapy and surgery are often used in combination with radiation therapy.
Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) is a form of radiation therapy that focuses many different radiation beams precisely onto a tumor. This type of therapy has a successful history of destroying minor tumors without harming the healthy tissue surrounding the tumors. Patients who have relatively small tumors and who are not healthy enough to safely undergo surgery are good candidates for SBRT. This type of therapy is still being researched and studied as a substitute for surgery.
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment for lung cancer and can be administered either intravenously or orally. The effectiveness of radiation therapy may be increased when combined and administered in conjunction with chemotherapy.
Photodynamic therapy is an effective option for those who have lung cancer that is affecting their bronchial tubes. If lung cancer is caught in its very early stages, photodynamic therapy may be able to completely eliminate the cancer altogether. If cancer is caught in its later stages, photodynamic therapy may still be used to reduce unpleasant symptoms associated with bronchial tube blockage that is caused by the cancer.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatments
There are specific combinations of cancer treatments that are recommended for non-small cell lung cancer, depending on the patient’s health and the stage of their cancer.
Stage 0 – Surgical removal of the tumor and photodynamic therapy are generally recommended.
Stages 1 and 2 – Surgical removal is recommended where possible. If surgery is not a viable option, radiation therapy is recommended, with or without chemotherapy.
Stages 3A and 3B – Chest radiation in combination with chemotherapy is typically recommended. In rare cases, surgical removal may be recommended for stage 3A, but not for stage 3B.
Stage 4 – Surgery is not recommended for cancers that have reached this stage. Instead, chemotherapy is typically the treatment of choice, and radiation therapy may be used for specific areas.
Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatments
There are specific combinations of cancer treatments that are typically recommended for small cell lung cancer, also dependent upon the patient’s health and the stage of their cancer. Surgery is almost never used as a small cell lung cancer treatment.
Limited Stage – Chemotherapy and chest radiation therapy are often used in combination to treat this stage of small cell lung cancer. Brain radiation treatment is also typically offered to help prevent the cancer from spreading into the brain.
Extensive Stage – Chemotherapy is the primary treatment method used during this stage of cancer. Targeted radiation therapy and brain radiation therapy may also be administered in conjunction with chemotherapy.
Whether you are in the beginning or advanced stages of lung cancer, you deserve to know all of your treatment options. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the recommended treatment options for your particular type and stage of lung cancer.