When preparing for a battle against lung cancer, staying informed on different treatment options is the best weapon you have. Your doctor will suggest treatments based on what type of cancer you have, non-small cell lung cancer versus small cell lung cancer, and what stage the cancer is currently in. There are currently five different types of treatment available for lung cancer:
When you heard the word cancer, you probably immediately thought of chemotherapy. However, it’s not an appropriate treatment for all types of cancer, which is why it’s essential to do your research when scheduling private lung cancer treatment. Chemotherapy is typically used on:
Stage 3 NSCLC
Chemotherapy is administered intravenously in a cycle of medication followed by a rest period to allow your body to recuperate. The number of cycles depends on cancer type and stage. Chemo can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments such as radiation or surgery to improve efficacy and minimize the chances of cancer returning.
Immunotherapy is often used in tandem with chemotherapy to treat extensive-stage SCLC but can also be effectively used on its own against advanced NSCLC. Immunotherapy blocks proteins made in your body to target and destroy cancer cells. While eliminating your body’s natural proteins may sound like a bad thing, these proteins inhibit the ability of your immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells, almost like having a cloaking device. Once the immunotherapy drugs are administered, the cancer cells lose their camouflage, and your immune system will recognize the foreign cells and start fighting back.
Radiation therapy utilizes targeted radiation to destroy cancer cells and inhibit their ability to spread. When treating lung cancer, this is usually administered in external beam radiation therapy, similar to getting an x-ray. Radiation therapy can be used solo or coordinated with other treatments depending on your type and stage of cancer. Radiation therapy for lung cancer is typically administered in one of two ways:
Standard external beam radiation therapy
Stereotactic body radiation therapy
Standard EBRT is administered daily for several weeks, depending on whether your doctor uses curative or palliative care. Stereotactic ablative radiation therapy is an exact dose of radiation to treat early NSCLC. It can sometimes be used in place of surgery, depending on tumour location.
If you catch your cancer in the early stages, you may be offered surgery to remove any growths. There are three different types of surgery used to treat lung cancer:
A lobectomy removes one lobe, or section, of the lung. Pneumonectomy is the removal of an entire lung. Wedge resection partially removes one lobe. The amount of lung removed depends on cancer location and size as well as patient lung function and general health. If using surgery as a treatment, the lymph nodes nearest to your tumour are also removed to test if cancer has spread, and further treatment is needed.
Targeted therapy gets its name from precisely attacking molecular targets in cancer cells to interrupt growth and spreading. Molecular targets are stored in the genes or proteins of cancer cells, and targeted therapy drugs are highly effective at targeting these proteins. However, the treatment will have little to no effect on growths that don’t contain particular proteins. To determine if targeted therapy is right for you, your doctor should administer molecular testing. If targeted therapy is prescribed, it will be administered orally via tablets or capsules.
Researching treatment options allows you to take an active role in your treatment plan. Use this information to discuss what treatment is right for you with your doctor, and together you can make a plan to kick cancer to the curb.