4 Common Lung Cancer Treatments
A thoracic oncologist, a surgeon who specializes in lung cancer treatment, uses one of several surgical techniques to remove a lung tumor and nearby lymph nodes. A lobectomy involves the full removal the affected lobe and is often effective in treating tumors of all sizes. The surgeon may also perform a wedge resection to remove a section of tissue that includes the tumor, and a segmental resection may be necessary to remove a larger portion of the lobe. In some cases, the surgeon may perform a pneumonectomy to remove the entire lung.
In chemotherapy, the doctor uses certain drugs to kill the lung cancer cells. An oncologist generally delivers the drugs intravenously over the course of several weeks or months. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, diarrhea and loss of appetite. Doctors often use chemotherapy before surgery to shrink cancer cells or facilitate their removal, and they may use it after surgery to kill remaining cancer cells.
Radiation therapy involves the use of radiation beams such as X-rays directed at cancer tissue from inside or outside the body. Doctors may use this treatment as a first course of action in patients who cannot undergo surgery, to kill remaining cancer cells after surgery or to relieve symptoms in patients with advanced-stage lung cancer.
This treatment uses drugs to target abnormalities in cancer cells. Bevacizumab prevents the tumor from creating a blood supply and is approved for the treatment of recurrent and advanced non-small cell lung cancer as of 2015, but it may produce side effects such as blood clots and high blood pressure. Crizotinib blocks chemicals responsible for the excessive growth and long lifespan of cancer cells, but it is only approved for cancers resulting from a specific genetic mutation. Erlotinib stops the chemicals that push the cancer cells to grow and divide. Side effects may include vision problems and nausea.
Lung cancer is a fierce illness, but a number of treatment options are available to fight it. Your specific treatment regimen depends on several factors such as overall health, stage of the cancer and personal preferences. Your doctor may recommend a combination of common treatment options including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy, and he can help you make the right choices based on side effects and potential benefits.
In addition to cancer-fighting treatments, patients may also seek palliative care, which aims to increase comfort by minimizing pain and other cancer symptoms. Consult with a qualified doctor to determine the most effective treatment options for your situation, and weigh the benefits and drawbacks carefully before making a decision.