Lung cancer is the number one leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, causing more deaths each year than prostate, ovarian, breast, and colon cancer combined. If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, your treatment plan will depend on the type and stage of your lung cancer, as well as your personal preferences and overall health. Luckily, there are many different options for treating lung cancer.
Surgical procedures are usually the first line of treatment for treating lung cancer. The most common procedures include:
- Wedge resection: This is a procedure that involves removing a small section of your lung that contains the tumor, as well as a small margin of healthy tissue that surrounds the tumor.
- Segmental resection: This is a procedure that removes a larger portion of your lung, but not the entire lobe.
- Lobectomy: This is a procedure that involves removing one entire lobe of one of your lungs.
- Pneumonectomy: This is a procedure that involves removing the entire lung that contains the cancer.
Many surgical procedures will also include removing lymph nodes from your chest to test for signs that the cancer might have spread.
Chemotherapy is a popular treatment for most types of cancer that involves using drugs to kill cancer cells throughout your entire body. You may need multiple chemotherapy drugs administered intravenously or taken orally. Sometimes chemotherapy is used before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may still remain.
Radiation is also a common treatment option for many types of cancer that uses high-powered energy beams to destroy cancer cells in a localized area of your body. Like chemotherapy, radiation may be used before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to kill remaining cancer cells. If you have advanced lung cancer, radiation therapy might be used to relieve your pain and prolong your life.
Targeted Drug Therapy
There are many different medications that are used as targeted drug therapies, which work by targeting specific abnormalities in certain cancer cells. Some examples of targeted drugs that work for lung cancer include Avastin (bevacizumab), Tarceva (erlotinib), and Xalkori (crizotinib).
There are always more cancer treatments that are being developed. If your current lung cancer treatments aren’t working, you may be interested in looking into some clinical trials that are currently going on. Talk to your doctor about which current clinical trials might be a good option for you.
If you decide that the side effects and risks of treatment outweigh the potential benefits, then you might choose not to undergo treatment at all. In this case, your doctor might recommend comfort care to treat the symptoms you are experiencing and improve your quality of life until death.