Lung Cancer Treatments

Lung Cancer Treatments

The options for patients:

The various types and stages of lung carcinomas require a different approach for optimum treatment. In recent years, the quality and quantity of obtainable treatments has grown, giving more opportunity for successful treatment.

Doctors will review the particular treatment recommended for your kind of cancer, but this overview can help you understand your options and ask better questions as your doctor reviews your treatment plan.

Surgical Options

For Stage 0 and Stage 1 lung non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC), often surgical resection (removal) of tumors may be in order. Non-small cell cancers tend to form more definite tumors with definite margins. The level of surgery depends on the size and number of the tumors. The different levels of surgery as outlined by the Mayo Clinic Oncology Department include: Mediastinoscopy, Thoracoscopy, Wedge resection, Lobectomy, Pneumonectomy, and Sleeve resection.

Unfortunately, for NSCLC past Stage 1 and small cell carcinomas, surgical options are generally not effective. However, there are several other obtainable and effective lung cancer treatments.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapies are varied and provide a general spectrum of possible treatments. These therapies may be used alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. A board-certified radiation oncology specialist should be the one to draft your radiation treatment plan. That plan may include one or more of the obtainable treatments, including: Brachytherapy, Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) or Radiofrequency ablation (RF ablation).


The most widely effective of the lung cancer treatments is chemotherapy. The challenge of late stage NSCLC and all forms of small cell cancer is that tracking down every cancer cell by physical method, whether surgically or by application of radiation is nearly impossible. The advantage of chemotherapy is that it uses the same mode of transportation that the cancer itself uses: the blood and the lymphatic system.

Photodynamic Therapy

Most effective on non-small cell cancers restricted to the surface of the airways, photodynamic therapy is the newest of the lung cancer treatments. It is a two-stage treatment, first receiving medication to photo-sensitize the cells to light damage; the second phase is to use a logical light or laser to bathe the internal surfaces of the lungs in an effort to kill the newly sensitized cancer cells. This is a minimally invasive treatment that is enjoying strong early results since approval.

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