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Lung Cancer - Treatment Overview

Treatment for both non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) may include the following:

  • Surgery. This may involve removing the cancer, the affected lobe of lung, or the entire lung.
  • Radiation.Radiation is often used in combination with surgery or chemotherapy or both. For more information, see Other Treatment.
  • Chemotherapy.Chemotherapy can help control the growth and spread of the cancer, but it is a cure in only a small number of people. For more information, see Medications.
  • Laser therapy.Laser therapy uses a highly focused beam of light to kill cancer cells.

Other treatments for NSCLC include:

Recommended Related to Lung Cancer

Stage Information for Small Cell Lung Cancer

Staging Systems Several staging systems have been proposed for small cell lung cancer (SCLC). These staging systems include the following: American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) Tumor, Node, and Metastasis (TNM).[1] Veterans Administration Lung Study Group (VALG).[2] International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).[3] Limited-Stage Disease No universally accepted definition of this term is available. Limited-stage disease (LD) SCLC is confined to the...

Read the Stage Information for Small Cell Lung Cancer article > >

  • Targeted therapy.Targeted therapy is the use of medicines such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors or monoclonal antibodies to block cancer growth.
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT).PDT uses medicine and a special light to treat cancer.
  • Cryosurgery.Cryosurgery may be used to freeze and destroy lung tumors.
  • Electrocautery. Electrocautery is the use of a low-voltage electrical charge to destroy tumors.
  • Watchful waiting.Watchful waiting means being watched closely by your doctor but not having treatment until you show symptoms or a change of some kind. It is only used in rare cases.

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.

Other treatments for SCLC include:

  • Endoscopic stent placement. This is done to open a blocked airway so you can breathe more easily. A flexible lighted viewing instrument (endoscope) is used to place a small hollow tube (a stent) in your bronchial tubes if a tumor is making it hard for you to breathe.

The kind of treatment and the long-term outcome of lung cancer depends on the type and stage of the cancer and also on your age and your overall health.

Some treatments can cause side effects. Home treatment measures may help.

Your quality of life is critical when you are considering your treatment choices. Discuss your personal preferences with your oncologist when he or she recommends treatment.

Additional information about lung cancer is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/lung.

Dealing with your emotions

If you have been recently diagnosed with lung cancer, you may feel denial, anger, and grief. Reactions vary from person to person. Talk to your doctor about steps you can take to help with your emotional reactions.

If you are having a hard time moving forward with your life, talk with your doctor. Your cancer treatment center may offer counseling services. You may also contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society to help you find a support group.

Having cancer can change your life in many ways. For support in managing these changes, see the topic Getting Support When You Have Cancer.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 12, 2012
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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