Today's Treatment Options for Lung Cancer

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Lung cancer develops when normal cell function becomes interrupted, causing cells to divide and multiply uncontrollably. These cancer cells clump together to form a mass called a tumor.

The two main types of lung cancer, small cell and non-small cell, are named after what they look like under a microscope.

Lung cancer is treated in several ways depending on the type of lung cancer and how far it has spread.

Surgery is a treatment option where doctors cut out the tumor and surrounding cancer tissue. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, they may remove a small part of the lung, a lobe, lymph nodes, or even an entire lung.

Radiation therapy uses high energy rays similar to an X-ray to kill the cancer. These beams focus on a specific area of the body to maximize the effect on cancer cells while minimizing injury to normal cells.

While surgery and radiation are localized to one area, chemotherapy is taken as pills or through an IV. Chemotherapy searches the entire body for tumor cells and is designed to shrink or kill that. Radiation and chemo are sometimes used together as chemoradiation.

Targeted therapy is another treatment that searches for cancer cells in the body. It is taken by pills and can be taken at home to block the growth, survival, and spread of cancer cells.

Immunotherapy is a new cancer treatment that stimulates the immune system's natural defenses to recognize and destroy cancer cells.

Small cell lung cancer is usually treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.

Non-small cell lung cancer can typically be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these treatments.

Choosing the treatment option that is right for you can be difficult. Your doctor can explore the treatment options available for your type of cancer and explain the risk and benefits of each.