Depending on the type and stage of lung cancer that you are diagnosed with, your treatment options will change.
Different types of treatment are available for patients with small cell lung cancer. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials (potential new treatments).
A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial, although some are open only to patients who have not started treatment.
Five types of standard small cell cancer treatment include:
Surgery may be used if the cancer is found in one lung and in nearby lymph nodes only. However, this type of lung cancer is usually found in both lungs; therefore, surgery alone is not often used.
Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the operation, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may remain. Treatment that is given after the surgery to lower the risk that the cancer will come back is called adjuvant therapy.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. The way the chemotherapy is given depends upon the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy).
When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy).
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. The way the a radiation therapy is given depends upon the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
There are two types of radiation therapies:
Laser therapy is a cancer treatment that uses a laser beam (a narrow beam of intense light) to kill the cancer cells.
Depending on the stage of the non-small cell lung cancer, the treatment plan will be adjusted, below is an idea of what treatment plans may look like for each of the stages.
Occult Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Treatment of occult non-small cell lung cancer depends on where the cancer has spread. It can usually be cured by surgery.
Electrocautery, cryosurgery, or laser surgery using an endoscope.
Treatment of stage I non-small cell lung cancer may include the following:
Treatment of stage II non-small cell lung cancer may include the following:
Treatment of stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer that can be removed with surgery may include surgery followed by chemotherapy.
Treatment of stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer that cannot be removed with surgery may include the following:
Some stage IIIA non-small cell lung tumors that have grown into the chest wall may be completely removed. Treatment of chest wall tumors may include the following:
Treatment of stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer may include the following:
Treatment of stage IV non-small cell lung cancer may include the following:
Some of the tests that were done to diagnose the cancer or to find out the stage of the cancer may be repeated. Some tests will be repeated to see how well the treatment is working. Decisions about whether to continue, change, or stop treatment may be based upon the results of these tests. This is sometimes called re-staging.
Some of the tests will continue to be done from time to time after treatment has ended. The results of these tests can show if your condition has changed or if the cancer has returned. These tests are sometimes called follow-up tests or check-ups.