Treatment choices and chances of long term survival in lung cancer depend on the type of cancer, its location and size, lymph node involvement, and whether there is evidence of cancer spread to other parts of the body outside of the lungs.
For a complete cure of lung cancer, surgery is the only definitive treatment currently available. Unfortunately, only one-half of patients with lung cancer are surgical candidates.
Spread of the cancer is of major concern. If the spread of cancer to the lymph nodes is found at the time of removal of the lung cancer, the chances of the cancer recurring is quite high.
Preoperative evaluation before any surgery is extremely important. This is necessary to exclude patients with severe heart or lung problems who might not survive the operation, but also to exclude those cancers which cannot be surgically removed due to technical or anatomical impossibilities.
Sometimes, palliative surgical resection of the tumour is performed, whereby the cancer is removed knowing that this will not cure the patient, but will likely improve the quality of life remaining for the patient.
With surgery of lung cancer, the idea is to remove the cancer along with a portion of normal lung tissue and adjacent lymph nodes (lobectomy). In some cases the surgery requires removal of the entire lung on one side of the chest (pneumonectomy). This is dependant on the spread of the cancer.
Unfortunately radiation therapy rarely cures patients with lung cancer. These treatments prolong life in some patients, and improve the quality of life while relieving pain in others. The major role of radiation therapy is to relieve symptoms and is performed by directing radioactive xray beams at the cancer tissues.
Chemotherapy is the use of medications and drugs which are known to kill cancer cells. It does however have unpleasant side effects such as nausea and hairloss. Chemotherapy is widely accepted as the primary treatment for small cell cancers. In early small cell cancers of the lung, there is a higher success rate with chemotherapy, especially if the cancer is only in the chest. In cases of non-small cell cancers of the lung, chemotherapy can be used alone or in combination with radiation therapy.
Any treatment regime will be carefully planned with by a trained specialist in consideration of the patients needs and best interests. If you have any questions please consult your local doctor.
Lung Cancer (Treatment)