There are several different ways to treat lung cancer. You will work with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for your lung cancer based on its stage and your overall health. Usually, doctors will use several different treatment methods to treat lung cancer. Patients benefit from the collaboration between Temple Lung Center specialists and Fox Chase Cancer Center medical oncologists, who will often consider new treatment options like clinical trials.
There are two main types of medications used to treat lung cancer:
- Chemotherapy: kills cancer cells using chemotherapy drugs. You may receive just one type of chemotherapy drug, or you may receive more than one. They are administered intravenously through a vein or in pill form. You may receive several treatments over a period of weeks or months, but you will have breaks throughout this time so that your body can recover. Chemotherapy is often used either before surgery to shrink the cancer and make it easier to surgically remove, or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
- Targeted drug therapy: drugs that target specific characteristics in cancer cells. These are newer medications that are often used in conjunction with chemotherapy. Some of these drugs work only on cancer cells in which certain genetic mutations are present.
These treatments may be used alone or in combination:
- Surgery: a surgeon will attempt to remove the lung cancer and preserve healthy tissue. The surgeon may also remove lymph nodes from the chest. There are several procedures a surgeon may use:
- Wedge resection: removes the small section of the lung containing the tumor and a margin of healthy tissue
- Segmental resection: removes a larger section of the lung containing the tumor and a margin of healthy tissue. Does not remove the entire lobe of the lung
- Lobectomy: removes the entire lobe of one of the lungs
- Pneumonectomy: removes one entire lung
- Radiation therapy: uses radiation to kill cancer cells. It may be used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells, or it may be the only treatment used. There are two types of radiation therapy: external beam radiation, which directs radiation from outside the body at cancer cells in the body, and brachytherapy, which uses radiation that is contained in needles, seeds, or catheters, which are placed inside the body near the cancer.
- Clinical trials: new treatments for lung cancer are actively being developed. Our treatment collaboration with Fox Chase Cancer Center medical oncologists means that Temple Lung Center patients can be offered potential new therapies that are not available at most hospitals.
- Palliative care: involves working to minimize lung cancer symptoms, but does not involve treating the cancer with the intention of cure. Palliative care can be used either alone or in conjunction with treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. Palliative care aims to improve quality of life and provide comfort.