Four Lung Cancer Treatments Often Recommended by Doctors and Specialists
Before treatment can begin for lung cancer, doctors may recommend that you see a lung cancer specialist. The experience of a specialist may benefit you in choosing the best course of treatment for your lung cancer.
Finding the best lung cancer treatment option depends on certain key factors, such as your lung cancer’s type and stage at diagnosis. Many different options for lung cancer treatment exist, and they're often utilized in conjunction with one another to reach optimal results. The treatments range from simple surgeries to remove the cancer to radiation exposure to kill the cancerous cells.
When surgery is performed as a lung cancer treatment, the surgeon removes the tissue that contains the tumor, and he or she may also choose to remove the lymph nodes nearest the affected area. When a small part of the lung is surgically removed, it is known as a wedge resection or segmentectomy. The removal of the lung’s lobes is commonly referred to as a lobectomy or sleeve lobectomy. In especially extensive cancers, the lung may be removed entirely, which is known as a pneumonectomy. Fluids and air may accumulate in the chest following lung surgery, but they can be removed by a tube that's inserted into the chest during the healing process.
Since high energy ionizing radiation has the power to kill cells, radiation therapy can be used to target cancerous cells in the affected area. A machine targets the radiation to just the affected area, and when applied externally, it is known as external radiation therapy. This is the most common form of radiation therapy in treating lung cancer. There are several known side-effects of radiation treatment, including throat problems, fatigue and skin irritations.
This form of lung cancer treatment utilizes cancer-killing drugs, which are typically injected into the bloodstream or taken orally. Chemotherapy is given in cycles, with periods of rest required after each treatment segment. This can be done at a clinic, the doctor’s office, in the hospital or at home. Though a very common form of treatment for many cancers, there are a number of side-effects from chemotherapy as well. These can include infections, bruising, bleeding, fatigue and temporary hair loss. Other repercussions are decreased appetite, nausea, diarrhea, sores of the mouth, hearing loss and joint pain. Many of these problems stem from the fact that chemotherapy also destroys healthy cells in the affected area along with the cancerous ones.
Specific drugs used for targeted therapy have been discovered to block certain activities of cancerous cells, helping to prevent the growth and spread of the disease. Often, this form of treatment is best used in conjunction with another treatment option, such as with surgery or chemotherapy. Like all treatments, there are side effects to targeted therapy for lung cancer. These include bleeding, abdominal pain, diarrhea, coughing up blood and shortness of breath.