Lung cancer is something that affects many people throughout the world every single year, and is one of the most common forms of cancer in the USA. In fact, about 200,000 people get diagnosed with lung cancer every single year, and 150,000 people die from it, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Although this paints the picture that lung cancer has a very low survival rate, about 30% of people are expected to survive for at least a year after diagnosis. The prognosis for a full recovery is lower though, although getting diagnosed quicker gives a higher chance of survival, as the lung cancer treatment can begin earlier.
When it comes to lung cancer treatment, there are a number of different paths it could take, and these paths are also often combined when two treatments are used. This article will go over the more common lung cancer treatment options, so that you know what to expect if you have just been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Treatment of cancer – including lung cancer treatment – often involves something called radiotherapy, which is a process whereby radiation is aimed at the cancer. This radiation then acts on the cancerous cells, with the hope being that they will be killed. Radiotherapy can happen in two ways: from an external source, or through a piece of radioactive material been placed inside the body, near to the area of the cancer.
If you are going to receive radiotherapy, the process can be quite intense, although this does depend on the severity of the cancer. Most people have a number of sessions over a week, with the number of weeks ranging from 3 through to about 7. Some other people with lung cancer might have to undergo more than one piece of radiotherapy in a day as part of their treatment for cancer, which is a process known as hyperfractionation. Although this is more intense, it means that the process is completed in a shorter timeframe.
Should the cancer be terminal, it is still possible to use radiotherapy as a lung cancer treatment, although it is used solely for palliative means. This means that radiotherapy is used to control the cancer and make the patient’s life more bearable, although the patient will not be fully cured.
Chemotherapy is also something that many people have heard of, and it is another common lung cancer treatment option. The good news is that small cell lung cancer responds well to this type of treatment. It is also used though due to the fact that lung cancer has often spread away from the lungs by the time it is diagnosed, so chemotherapy will fight all of the cancer in the body. Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with radiotherapy, and also sometimes before surgery, so as to decrease the size of the cancer (radiotherapy is often used for this too).
Chemotherapy might also be used after the cancer has been removed in surgery, so as to lower the risk of the cancer returning in the future, and also as a form of palliative care, to help the patient’s comfort. There are various side-effects to this form of lung cancer treatment, but these pale into insignificance when you realize that this treatment could save your life. There are many different types of drugs used for chemotherapy when it comes to lung cancer treatment and an experienced doctor will know which is best for you.
The final type of lung cancer treatment to talk about is surgery, and this is often the most effective way to remove cancer from the body, not just in lung cancer but in a number of other cancers as well. Surgery is only usually an option though if the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. As already mentioned, chemotherapy or radiotherapy might be used to reduce the size of the cancer prior to the operation, so that it is easier to remove.
There are three main types of operations used for surgery on lung cancer: pneumonectomy, lobectomy and wedge resection. Surgeons will be able to decide on the best course of action, and it will depend on the size of the tumor and also on its location.