Researchers are continually finding new ways to treat lung cancer. People diagnosed with the disease now have more hope for survival than ever before.

The choices that you have for treatment depend on these factors.

  • Type, size, and location of the tumor in your lung

  • Results of lab tests

  • Extent of the disease, called the stage

  • Status of your health and your age

  • Your personal needs and preferences

Treatment for lung cancer is either local or systemic.

Local treatments remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in one certain area. Surgery and radiation are local treatments.

Systemic treatments destroy or control cancer cells throughout the whole body. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment.

Types of Treatment for Lung Cancer

The treatment you have for lung cancer is based mostly on the type and stage of your cancer. Different types of treatments have different goals. You may have just one treatment or a combination of different treatments. Here’s a list of some of the common ways to treat lung cancer and their goals. They’re listed from the most to least commonly used.

  • Surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor from your lung, leaving as much as possible of your lung as possible intact. Sometimes, however, the entire lung must be removed. Surgery is used more often for non-small cell lung cancer than for small cell lung cancer.

  • Radiation Therapy. The goal of radiation therapy is to kill cancer cells using X-rays. This treatment is used to shrink a tumor before surgery or to get rid of any remaining cancer cells after surgery. It may also be used by itself without surgery or may be used together with chemotherapy.

  • Chemotherapy. The goal of chemotherapy in treating lung cancer is to lower the chance that the cancer will spread to other parts of your body, or to treat the cancer that is outside of the lung area. Chemotherapy is sometimes used in combination with surgery or radiation, or both.

  • Targeted Therapies. The goal of this kind of drug therapy is to target the specific molecules that cause cells to become cancerous, grown, and spread (metastasize). It may be used when another type of treatment hasn’t worked. They treat non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT). The goal of PDT is to treat early stage non-small cell lung cancer by using a drug that, when exposed to a particular kind of light, destroys cancer cells. It may also be used to ease symptoms of more advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

While lung cancer is more likely to be curable when found and treated in its early stages most people have more extensive lung cancer. Right now, these treatments can help control lung cancer and help you feel better, but it is not common to cure lung cancer. Doctors are also finding new ways to treat lung cancer. These new methods are tested in clinical trials. Before beginning treatment, you should ask your doctor if there are any clinical trials you should consider.

You may want to learn all you can about your disease and treatment choices so that you can take an active part in decisions about your medical care. One of the best ways to get the information you need is to ask your doctor and other healthcare professionals the questions and concerns you have about your treatment options. You may want to ask how the treatment may change your daily life, including your diet, and how you will look and feel after treatment. And you may want to know how successful the treatment is expected to be, and what its risks and side effects may be.

Medical Reviewer: [Fisher, Graeme MD, Knoop, Teresa MSN, RN, AOCN�, Rick AlteriRick Alteri MD] Last Annual Review Date: 2008-01-27T00:00:00-07:00 Copyright: 2007 CancerSource, 280 Summer Street, 9th Floor, Boston, MA 02210. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.

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