Treatment of lung cancer, like most other types of cancer, is influenced by factors such as:
As there is usually no single treatment which works for all patients, treatment is usually a combination of therapies and palliative care. Treatment options for lung cancer include:
Surgery: Surgery for lung cancer can be curative or palliative. Surgery may be curative in early stages of the cancer when all of the cancerous tissues can be removed. This is usually the primary therapy if a cancer is in stage I or II and has not metastasised. It may be possible to remove these cancers completely and cure the patient. However, most lung cancers are in more advanced stage at the time of diagnosis. After the disease has spread, it is not possible to remove all of the cancer cells. Palliative surgery may be done in some advanced cancers to relieve symptoms such as obstruction by opening an airway, to make the patient more comfortable but not necessarily remove the cancer.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy or radiotherapy uses high-powered energy beams such as gamma-rays emitted from metals such as radium or high-energy x-rays created in a special machine to kill or destroy cancer cells and shrink tumours. Radiation therapy is directed at the area where cancer is located and this destroys the cancer cells. Radiation therapy is used in lung cancer:
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a mode of cancer treatment which uses certain drugs to destroy or kill cancer cells. These drugs target any rapidly dividing cells (not just cancer cells), but normal cells are able to recover from any chemical-induced damage while cancer cells cannot. During chemotherapy, the drug may be given through a vein (intravenous) or orally (by mouth). Lung cancer is usually treated with two or more chemotherapy drugs given at a time (combination chemotherapy). In some patients chemotherapy may be given as adjuvant therapy, as a complement to surgery and radiation.
Other Treatments: Currently available treatments are not very effective for treatment of lung cancer. Prognosis for lung cancer is poor as compared to most other cancers. Researchers are trying ways to improve lung cancer treatments. Some of the newer therapies being tested for lung cancer include immunotherapy, hormone therapy, and gene therapy. Further studies are needed to establish the efficacy of these treatments for lung cancer.