Cancer is a chronic condition that can be treated only when it’s in the initial stages as the cancer cells have not yet affected the adjacent areas. When cancer metastasizes, the treatment options shift focus from curing cancer to improving the symptoms of the same. Like every other form of cancer, lung cancer too can be cured only when it is diagnosed at an early stage. For those who smoke or smoked previously, it is imperative that they undergo lung cancer screening as it will help with early detection in case they have developed lung cancer. This lung cancer screening can help determine the stage of lung cancer and the severity of the same.
There are two types of lung cancer and they are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the more common form of lung cancer and forms about 85 percent of the total lung cancer cases. When lung cancer is in its initial stages, there are several treatment methods that can completely cure it, whereas, as the disease progresses, the focus shifts to managing the symptoms of lung cancer. The different options available for treating lung cancer are as follows:
When lung cancer is in its initial stages, the patients have to undergo minimally-invasive surgery that involves removing lobes or portions of the lung that are damaged. The major surgical procedures that are used to treat lung cancer include wedge resection which involves removing a small section of the lung that contains the tumor along with a margin of healthy tissues; segmental resection, where a larger portion of the lung is removed, but the love remains intact; lobectomy, which involves removing the entire lobe of one lung; and, pneumonectomy, where the entire lung is removed.
- Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is a form of lung cancer treatment that makes use of high-powered energy beams like X-rays and protons to kill cancer cells. For those with advanced lung cancer, radiation therapy is administered before and after the surgery. Moreover, it is even combined with chemotherapy as a form of primary treatment when surgery is not a feasible option.
Chemotherapy makes use of medications to kill cancer cells. The chemotherapy medications are administered through a vein in the arm (intravenously) or taken orally. In chemotherapy, there are instances when the medications are combined to get the desired treatment results. Often, the patients are advised to undergo chemotherapy after the surgery to kill the cancer cells that remain. However, it is also used before surgery to shrink the cancer tumors as it becomes easier to remove them.
Stereotactic body radiotherapy, which is also known as radiosurgery, is an intense treatment that aims several beams of radiation from different angles at the cancerous tumor. This form of lung cancer treatment is a feasible option for those lung cancer patients who cannot undergo surgery. Moreover, radiosurgery is used to treat the lung cancer that has metastasized to other parts of the body, including the brain.
- Targeted therapy
Targeted therapy makes use of medications that focus on specific abnormalities that are inherently present in the cancer cells. By blocking these abnormalities, the cancer cells cease to multiply and eventually die off.
This form of cancer treatment involves using the immune system to fight cancer. As the immune system cannot attack the cancer cells as it produces proteins that blind the immune system cells, immunotherapy works by restricting this process. This lung cancer treatment is used to treat people with advanced lung cancer.