Chemotherapy is being used in new ways to treat non-small cell lung cancer
(NCSLC). Until a few years ago, only patients with late-stage lung cancer
received chemotherapy to help prolong life. Now, chemotherapy is given at
earlier stages, in addition to other treatments, to slow the progression of
cancer and to help cure the disease.
“Chemotherapy has dramatically improved in the last decade,” says George R.
Simon, MD, FACP, FCCP, director of thoracic oncology Fox Chase Cancer Center in
Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). In this test, a small ultrasound probe at the end of the endoscope is placed
down the throat to the chest area. The ultrasound can help find cancer behind the breast bone or in lymph
nodes in the area. EUS may also be used to guide a biopsy of the lymph nodes, the lung, or other areas.
If you have non-small cell lung cancer, your doctor may check for tumor markers (biomarkers), such as EGFR, ALK, and KRAS, that are caused by gene changes (mutations) in cancer cells. This can help your doctor choose the treatment that will
work best for you.
Tests before surgery
A person whose lungs aren't working well may not be a good
candidate for surgery. If surgery to remove cancer in all or part of a lung is being
considered, the following tests may be done:
Screening tests help your doctor look for a certain disease or condition before any symptoms appear. This can increase your chance of finding the problem at a more treatable stage. Studies have not yet shown that routine screening for lung cancer saves lives or prevents lung cancer.
Screening may help people whose risk for lung cancer is higher than normal. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of screening tests if you:
Several studies have looked at the use of
chest X-rays, sputum cytologies, or
spiral CT to screen for lung cancer. Screening with chest X-rays or sputum didn't improve survival. But a large research study found that screening with low-dose spiral CT reduced lung cancer deaths among current and former smokers.6 Screening with low-dose CT scans may help if you are older than 55 and are a heavy smoker.7
While screening tests may aid in the early diagnosis of lung
cancer, they can also show abnormal findings, such as nodules, that
are not cancer. This is known as a false-positive, which can cause you to have more tests or even treatment that you don't need.