Several lung cancer treatments are now available and the determination as to which one is prescribed depends on the lung cancer stage that’s been identified, the location of the cancer, and the patient’s health.
The most common treatments for lung cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.
Surgery involves cutting away a cancerous tumor and a portion of the tissue which has surrounded the tumor. Sometimes the surgical treatment involves removal of the entire affected lung.
Surgery is often effective, but recovery period can be extended. Because the surgeon will have to cut through the rib cage for the lungs, there will be pain and bed rest for one to two months following the procedure.
In addition to traditional surgical methods, other types of surgical procedures can be utilized based on the location of the tumor and also the patient’s physical state. A craniotomy, which is basically surgery performed through a hole made to the skull can be prescribed to tumors located in the brain.
For small tumors, a process whereby a video camera is inserted into a tiny incision assists the surgeon zero in on a tumor. Since the incision is small, pain is generally reduced.
Radiation may either be used by itself or in conjunction radiation. Radiation can be beamed directly at the cancerous tumor from the exterior of the body using a laser, or radiation can be delivered directly to the tumor via a small pellet.
When a patient’s overall state of health is poor, radiation is a far better alternative than undergoing a surgical procedure. In cases where surgery was performed, radiation could also be prescribed as a way to remove the cancerous cells that for whatever reason could not be surgically removed.
Radiation to eliminate brain tumors can lead to altering the brain’s functionality later on, but may be the only option.
Chemotherapy drugs can be taken either orally or administered via an injection into a vein. Because the blood can carry the drug through the body, Chemotherapy is often the preferred treatment when lung cancer has spread well beyond the lungs.
1 problem associated with chemotherapy is that it may also cause damage to healthy cells and the cells that make blood that live within the bone marrow. Low blood counts can result in a number of different problems so chemotherapy treatment must be carefully monitored.
4. Targeted Therapy
Targeted Therapy is a relatively new treatment option which does show promise. Rather than focusing on destroying damaged cells (that may also damage healthy cells), these drugs instead are intended to interfere with a cancerous cell’s ability to grow. And regrettably, targeted therapy hasn’t been successful for all patients.
Each lung cancer treatment option has advantages, risks and often, side effects. Deciding which option is best is something that only a doctor and patient can determine.