Lung Cancer Treatment

After a lung cancer diagnosis, patients work with their healthcare providers to determine which treatment plan is right for them. Treatments vary depending upon a patient’s health, age, lifestyle, preferences, the type of lung cancer, and the stage of the cancer.

Primarily, treatments for lung cancer include:

Other treatment options include targeted drug therapy, immunotherapy and palliative care.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 234,030 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2018. The average age of a patient with a lung cancer diagnosis is about 70 years old.

Lung cancer causes more deaths in both men and women than any other type of cancer. Because many people with lung cancer do not experience symptoms until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, lung cancer is more likely to be detected in its later stages. And it is more difficult to cure at that time.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lung cancer, talk to us about the CyberKnife treatment option. We also offer second opinions on treatments recommended by a patient’s oncologist. Contact us 

Small cell and non-small cell lung cancer treatments

Whether a patient is diagnosed with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) or non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the treatment options vary according to the individual patient’s circumstances including the stage of the cancer. Treatment options are traditional surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System, which is an advanced form of highly targeted radiation therapy. Oncologists use these treatments either alone or together, depending on several variables.

Following is information on the types of lung cancer treatments.

Lung cancer surgery

The goal of surgery is the complete removal of the lung tumor and the nearby lymph nodes in the chest. There are several different lung cancer surgery options.

  • Wedge resection removes cancerous tissue from the lung, typically in diagnosing or treating metastasis (spread of the lung cancer to another part of the body).
  • Lobectomy is a procedure that removes an entire lung lobe, which is a section of one of the two lungs.
  • Segmentectomy is designed to remove cancerous tissue from a lung segment when a lobectomy cannot be performed.
  • Pneumonectomy is the removal of an entire lung.

Surgery is effective in removing most stage 1 and 2 non-small cell lung cancers. Surgery is rarely used as the main part of treatment for small cell lung cancer, as the cancer has usually already spread by the time it is found. SCLC spreads widely and quickly through the body, and removing it all with surgery alone is usually impossible.

Radiation & chemotherapy for lung cancer

Radiation and chemotherapy are sometimes used to help prevent the cancer from returning or used prior to other treatments.

Receiving chemotherapy before radiation or surgery may shrink the tumor (making it easier to remove), increase the effectiveness of radiation and destroy hidden cancer cells at the earliest possible time. If a tumor doesn’t shrink with chemotherapy, the chemo medication can be stopped immediately, allowing the doctor to try a different treatment method.

For NSCLC that is stage 3 or 4 and for all SCLC, surgery and CyberKnife radiosurgery are most likely not an option. In these cases, traditional radiation, chemotherapy or the two in tandem provide patients with the best results.

The side effects of chemotherapy and traditional radiation therapy depend on the individual and the dose used, but they can include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and hair loss.

CyberKnife for lung cancer treatment

Anova Cancer Care offers CyberKnife radiosurgery treatments for non-small cell lung cancers at stage 1 or 2a as an alternative to surgery. Staging of non-small cell lung cancer can be complex. So, we recommend that patients have a thorough discussion with their diagnosing oncologist to understand the stage of their cancer. CyberKnife has excellent results for patients with these two early stages of NSCLC.

The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is a type of advanced radiation that uses 3D, computerized real-time image guidance to locate the tumor. CyberKnife is able to correct for patient breathing and movement during treatment. Because of this precise targeting, CyberKnife treatment causes the least amount of damage to healthy tissue. CyberKnife may be the best treatment option for many non-small cell lung cancer patients.

Other types of medical equipment can be used to deliver radiosurgery treatments. These are categorized into three types: particle beam (proton), Cobalt-60 based (photon), and linear accelerator (CyberKnife).

The proton and photon machines do not deliver radiosurgery autonomously or with continuous image-guided tracking. Without this capability, patients may be required to hold their breath and to wear an abdomen restricting brace to limit movement of the lungs during treatment.

Regardless of breath holding or restricting techniques, there will be movement during radiosurgery treatments that can cause harm to the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.

CyberKnife eliminates the need for restricting patient movement, offering a much more comfortable treatment experience. Patients treated with the CyberKnife for early stage non-small cell lung cancer have practically no damage to their healthy lung tissue because it targets only cancerous tissue, keeping healthy tissue intact. This limits the impact on a patient’s quality of life and reduces the chance of any side effects from the treatment itself.

Learn More About Lung Cancer