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Lung Cancer - Medications

Medicines for lung cancer mainly involve chemotherapy. Other medicines may be used to help with pain.

Chemotherapy

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 following:

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 will receive.

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 actionset.gif 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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 19, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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