Chemotherapy for Lung cancer

Chemotherapy uses powerful medication to kill cancer cells. They can be used:

  • Sometimes before Lung surgery to shrink a tumour, which can increase the chance of successful surgery but this approach is still experimental.
  • After lung surgery to prevent the cancer returning.
  • Combined with radiotherapy to cure Lung cancer (either concurrently with radiotherapy or soon after)
  • To relieve symptoms and slow the spread of Lung cancer when a cure isn’t possible (palliative chemotherapy)

Chemotherapy treatments are usually delivered through a drip into a vein (intravenously), or into a tube connected to one of the blood vessels in your chest. Some people may be given capsules or tablets to swallow instead. A chemotherapy cycle involves taking the chemotherapy medication, then having a break for a few weeks to let the body recover from the effects of the treatment. The number of cycles of chemotherapy will depend on the type and the grade of lung cancer. Most people require four to six courses of treatment over three to six months.

Chemotherapy drugs have their own side effects but they also share many side effects. If you want to read more about specific side effects please click on the following links: (links will open in a new window)


nausea and vomiting

Diarrhoea or constipation

skin and nails changes

mouth ulcers

hair loss

nerve changes

These side effects should gradually pass once your treatment has finished, or patients may be able to take other medicines to make them feel better during chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy can also lower blood count and weaken the immune system, making patients more vulnerable to infection.


Chemotherapy commonly used for non-small-cell cancer are:

Cisplatin and Vinorelbine

Carboplatin and Vinorelbine

Pemetrexed and Cisplatin

Pemetrexed and Carboplatin

Maintenance Pemetrexed

Gemcitabine and Carboplatin

Gemcitabine and Cisplatin

Chemotherapy commonly used for small-cell Lung cancer:

Cisplatin and Etoposide

Carboplatin and Etoposide


MVP chemotherapy