A person who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer has several treatment modalities to choose from. But first, they’ll need to consult with their oncologist and the oncologist’s team to determine which treatment is the best one for their type of lung cancer. There are at least two types of lung cancers. The stage and/or type of cancer largely determine how it is treated.
The Types of Cancer
The types of cancer most often seen are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer makes up less than 30 percent of all types of lung cancer. It is staged differently than non-small cell lung cancer. It has a limited stage, where it is still only in the lung and an extensive stage, which means it’s left the lung and spread to other areas in the body.
Non-small cell cancer is staged the way many other cancers are staged. It is staged from 0 to 4. If the person has a stage 0 cancer, the tumor is tiny and has not spread beyond the lung. In stage 4, the cancer has metastasized and found distant sites in the body.
Oncologists, like the ones at Missouri Cancer Associates for example, offer several types of surgery for lung cancer patients. During wedge resection, the part of the lung that holds the tumor is removed. An entire lobe is removed in a lobectomy, and in a pulmonectomy the entire lung is removed.• Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy uses the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer after it has been made vulnerable by certain drugs.
Chemotherapy drugs are used to destroy cancer cells. They can be given to the patient before surgery and after surgery to make sure that any remaining cancer cells are destroyed.
Radiation can be delivered by external beams targeted at the site of the malignancy or the surgeon can implant radioactive pellets around the tumor to destroy it.
• Laser Surgery
This technology kills cancer cells through the application of lasers.
• Endoscopic Stent
In this procedure, a thin tube is inserted into the patient’s body to implant a stent that keeps an airway open. This is a type of interventional pulmonology. It doesn’t attack the cancer per se but helps the patient to breathe better by removing or preventing obstructions.
This surgery is performed on a patient whose cancer has metastasized to their brain and spinal cord. Surgery removes as much of the cancer as possible, then chemotherapy and radiation are used to destroy the rest of the cancer cells. A procedure called stereotactic radiation therapy is sometimes used if doctors have found more than one tumor in the patient’s brain.
It is true that lung cancer is a serious and sometimes frightening illness. But advances in treatment continue to improve chances for survival.