Treatment Options for Lung Cancer

The patient and doctor should work together to choose a lung cancer treatment plan based on a number of factors. These include the type and stage of lung cancer; the patient’s overall health; and the patient’s preferences.

Lung cancer treatments typically include one or more types of therapy, such as surgery, chemotherapyTreatment with drugs that kill cancer cells, radiation therapyThe use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors, targeted drug therapyA type of treatment that uses drugs to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells with less harm to normal cells, or immunotherapyA type of cancer therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases. Sometimes a clinical trialA type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people with one or more of these types of treatment will be a possibility. In some cases the doctor may also suggest palliative careCare given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease, also called comfort care, to treat the symptoms the lung cancer is causing, such as pain or shortness of breath.1

In other cases, a patient may choose not to undergo treatment for the lung cancer. In that case, the doctor may suggest hospiceA program that provides special care for people who are near the end of life and for their families, either at home, in freestanding facilities, or within hospitals care to help manage pain and other symptoms, with a focus on quality of lifeThe overall enjoyment of life; an individual’s sense of well-being and ability to carry out various activities. Read about hospice care.

Treatment Options by Type of Lung Cancer

The recommended treatment options may vary depending on whether the cancer is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)A group of lung cancers that are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the cells look under a microscope; the most common kind of lung cancer or small cell lung cancer (SCLC)A fast-growing cancer that forms in tissues of the lung and can spread to other parts of the body; named small for how the cancer cells look under a microscope, and the stage of the disease. Treatment options are outlined by type and stage of the lung cancer on separate pages.

Types of Treatment

For more information on each type of treatment, click on the relevant link below.

On each treatment page, you will find a list of questions you can ask your health care team about that particular treatment. To see a complete list of these and other questions, see Asking the Right Questions.


Reference

  1. Lung Cancer - Non-Small Cell Treatment Options. American Society of Clinical Oncology website. http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/lung-cancer/treatment-options. Approved August 2015. Accessed March 4, 2016.

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