Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Lung Cancer Treatment

Treatment for lung cancer varies with the type of cancer and the stage (spread) of the disease. Treatment for lung cancer usually includes a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

The treatment options for lung cancer includes:

For more information:

Lung Cancer Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy involves the administration of strong drugs that kill lung cancer cells, which grow quickly. Unfortunately, normal cells that grow quickly are also killed. Normal cells in the intestinal tract, hair and blood marrow are killed by chemotherapy drugs. The selection of chemotherapy depends on a variety of factors, such as the lung cancer cell type.

Chemotherapy drugs used for non-small cell lung cancer include:

Chemotherapy drugs used for small cell lung cancer include:

Lung Cancer Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy combines laser treatments with medications that make cancer cells more sensitive to laser light. When the laser beam is directed to the cancer cells, they absorb more energy and die. Photodynamic therapy is used to destroy lung cancers that have not spread beyond the lung.

Lung Cancer Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after treatment for lung cancer.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
    • Is surgery an option for me?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • Do I need a special exercise program?
  • Will I need physical therapy?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for complications?
  • Are my children at risk for this condition?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

Lung Cancer Radiation Therapy

Radiation can kill lung cancer cells and shrink the size of tumors. Radiation can be delivered from outside the body through a machine, or it can be given internally by implanting a container of radioactive material into, or near, the tumor. Radiation therapy for lung cancer is delivered from outside the body.

Lung Cancer Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat lung cancer:

Lung Cancer Stage 1

Patients with a non-small cell lung cancer tumors are treated with surgery in an attempt to cure the disease. Patients with small cell lung cancer tumors undergo surgery, but the chance of a cure without additional treatment is rare.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be used as adjunctive therapy for some patients in this stage.

Lung Cancer Stage 2

Surgery is often used in an attempt to cure non-small cell lung cancers in this stage.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are usually part of the treatment of this stage, regardless of surgery.

Lung Cancer Stage 3

Surgery may be used in an attempt to cure non-small cell lung cancers in this stage. Chemotherapy is normally a part of the treatment of this stage, regardless of surgery. Chemotherapy alone cannot cure stage 3 cancer.

Radiation therapy is usually used to decrease the chance of recurrence after surgery, or to slow its spread.

Lung Cancer Stage 4

Chemotherapy is standard for stage 4 lung cancer. Medications can slow the progress of many lung cancers in this stage, but do not offer a cure.

Radiation therapy is often used to help relieve symptoms of advanced disease.

Lung Cancer Surgery

Surgery for lung cancer includes:

  • Wedge resection for lung cancer:
    • Removal of the tumor and surrounding lung tissue
  • Lobectomy for lung cancer:
    • Removal of the tumor and one lobe of a lung
  • Pneumonectomy:
    • Removal of an entire lung

Continue to Lung Cancer Home Care

Last Updated: Dec 17, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Lung Cancer References
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  3. Field RW, Smith BJ, Platz CE, Robinson RA, Neuberger JS, Brus CP, Lynch CF. Lung cancer histologic type in the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results registry versus independent review. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004 Jul 21;96(14):1105-7. [15265973]
  4. Manser R. Screening for lung cancer: a review. Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2004 Jul;10(4):266-71. [15220750]
  5. Pasic A, Postmus PE, Sutedja TG. What is early lung cancer? A review of the literature. Lung Cancer. 2004 Sep;45(3):267-77. [15301867]
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