The patient and the healthcare team work together to choose a lung cancer treatment plan that is based on a number of factors. Among these factors are 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 therapyA type of treatment that uses drugs to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells with less harm to normal cells, angiogenesis inhibitorsDrugs given during cancer treatment to prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow, and 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. Treatment options may also include palliative careCare given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease, also called supportive care, to treat the symptoms and side effects of the lung cancer itself and the lung cancer treatment, such as pain or shortness of breath.

When a patient chooses not to undergo treatment for the lung cancer, the healthcare team 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. For more information, see Hospice Care.

Treatment Options by Type of Lung Cancer

Recommended treatment options 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 what the stage of the lung cancer is. For each type of lung cancer, treatment options are outlined by the lung cancer's stage.

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 healthcare team about that particular treatment. To see a complete list of these and other questions, see Asking the Right Questions.

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