Lung cancer treatment

Lung cancer treatment depends on several factors, including:

  • the type of lung cancer (non-small-cell or small-cell cancer)
  • the size of the cancer
  • the position of the cancer within the lungs
  • how far advanced the cancer is (the stage)
  • overall health and fitness to receive therapy
  • patient’s wish

Non-small-cell lung cancer

When non-small-cell lung cancer is confined to one lung and patient is in good general health, most likely surgery will be used as the main therapy to remove the cancerous cells. Some patients may have chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that may have remained in the body.

Sometimes, lung cancer has not spread too far but surgery is not possible due to poor health for example. In this case, patients will have high dose radiotherapy as main treatment to destroy the cancerous cells. In some cases, chemotherapy will be added to radiotherapy to make more effective.

If lung cancer has spread too far (advanced or stage 4 lung cancer) neither surgery nor radiotherapy will be able to cure the cancer. chemotherapy and sometimes immunotherapy will be recommended to improve symptoms and keep cancer under control. If lung cancer starts to grow again after initial treatment, another course of treatment may be recommended if patient is fit enough. In some cases, oncologists may recommend a treatment called biological or targeted therapy when cancer cells have a specific mutation. Your oncologist should discuss this in more details with you.

Small-cell lung cancer

Chemotherapy is usually the main treatment for small-cell lung cancer, either on its own or in combination with radiotherapy. This can help to prolong life and relieve symptoms.

Surgery is not usually suitable to treat this type of lung cancer. This is because cancer has often already spread to other areas of the body by the time it’s diagnosed. However, if the cancer is found very early, surgery may be used. In these cases, chemotherapy or radiotherapy may be given after surgery to help reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

Please click on the link below to know more about each treatment modality:

Surgery

Radiotherapy

Chemotherapy

Biological therapies

Immunotherapy