Treatment for lung cancer is based on the type and stage of the cancer and other things, such as your overall health. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are the main treatments for both non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Other treatments that may be used for both types include immunotherapy, laser therapy, and endoscopic stent placement. NSCLC may also be treated with thermal ablation, photodynamic therapy, or targeted therapy.
Your doctor may suggest a clinical trial.
Your doctor will talk with you about your options and then make a treatment plan.
Some people use complementary therapies along with medical treatment. Therapies like acupuncture or massage may help you cope with the symptoms and stress of cancer. Talk with your doctor about any of these options you would like to try.
Surgery may be an option if your doctor thinks all of the cancer can be removed. Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed to find out if the cancer has spread.
To remove the cancer, the doctor may take out:
- A small wedge of lung (wedge resection) or a larger piece of the lung (segmentectomy).
- The affected lobe of the lung. (This is called a lobectomy.)
- The affected lobe and part of the bronchus. (This is called a sleeve resection).
- The whole lung. (This is called a pneumonectomy.)
Lung surgery may be done through one cut (incision) in the chest (thoracotomy). Or it may be done through several small cuts, using a tiny camera and special tools. (This is called video-assisted thoracic surgery, or VATS.) Your doctor can help you understand which type of surgery is best for you.
This uses high-dose X-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy is often used with surgery or chemotherapy to treat lung cancer. It may be used alone if surgery can't be done.
Radiation therapy may also be used to:
- Keep cancer from spreading to the brain. Radiation to the head is called prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI).
- Relieve symptoms. It may help ease pain from bone tumors or shrink tumors that make it hard to breathe or swallow.
Radiation therapy for lung cancer is usually given by a machine outside the body (external radiation). In some cases, it's given by placing substances inside the body (internal radiation, or brachytherapy).
These medicines kill fast-growing cells, including cancer cells and some normal cells. They may be given before or after surgery to help destroy any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy and radiation may be given together. (This is called chemoradiation.)
These medicines are often put into a vein. Sometimes they are taken as a pill. The medicines travel through your body to kill cancer cells both inside and outside the lung area.
Other treatment options for both NSCLC and SCLC include:
This treatment helps your immune system fight cancer. It may be given along with chemotherapy.
- Laser therapy.
This uses a highly focused beam of light to destroy cancer cells.
- Endoscopic stent placement.
If a tumor blocks your airway, the doctor can insert a small hollow tube (stent) to help you breathe more easily.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT).
A special light activates a medicine to destroy cancer cells. The doctor can use a bronchoscope to treat tumors in the airways.
NSCLC may also be treated with:
- Thermal ablation.
This uses extreme cold or heat to destroy cancer cells. Cryotherapy (or cryosurgery) is a type of ablation that uses cold. Radiofrequency ablation uses heat.
- Targeted therapy.
These medicines attack only cancer cells, not normal cells. They help keep cancer from growing or spreading.
Some of these medicines target certain tumor markers in the cancer cells. If the cancer has a tumor marker that can be targeted, you may be given one or more of these medicines.
Treatment for metastatic cancer
Treatment for metastatic lung cancer is based on many things. These include the type and location of the cancer, your overall health, and what matters to you. The main treatments are targeted therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Other treatments, such as radiation therapy, may help relieve symptoms. A clinical trial may be a good choice.
- Clinical Trials
- Immunotherapy for Cancer
- Lung Surgery for Lung Cancer
- Radiation Therapy for Cancer Pain
- Radiation Treatment for Cancer