Medicines for lung cancer mainly involve chemotherapy. Other medicines may be used to help with pain.
Chemotherapy is the most effective treatment for
small cell lung cancer. It can help control the growth and spread of the
cancer, but it cures lung cancer in only a small number of people. It
also may be used to treat more advanced stages of
non-small cell lung cancer.
Chemotherapy is called a systemic
treatment because the medicines enter your bloodstream, travel through your
body, and kill cancer cells both inside and outside the lung area. Some
chemotherapy drugs are taken by mouth (orally), while others are injected into
a vein (intravenous, or IV).
Some of the more common chemotherapy medicines used for lung cancer include the
Most chemotherapy causes some
side effects. Your doctor may prescribe
medicines to control nausea or vomiting.
You may be concerned about losing your hair
from cancer treatment. Not all chemotherapy medicines cause hair loss, and some
people have only mild thinning that is noticeable only to them. Talk to your
doctor about whether hair loss is an expected side effect of the medicines you
Chemotherapy may be combined with surgery. It may be given before or after surgery to kill cancer cells.
Medicines for pain
Pain is one of the main concerns of people who have cancer. But cancer pain can almost always be controlled with medicines and other options. Medicines used for cancer pain include prescribed medicines, such as hydrocodone or morphine, or nonprescription medicines, such as aspirin and similar drugs.