A diagnosis of lung cancer comes with a number of differing treatment choices. Among the normal options are surgical removal of the cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. There are also a handful of newer treatments such as laser surgery , cryosurgery, electrocautery, photodynamic therapy, and internal radiation. All of these different treatments have their own method of treating the cancer, and each one carries its own risks and side effects. So while there are a number of different types of treatment, choosing the proper treatment for the individual patient is a decision that should be made carefully, considering all pertinent information, with the help of the individual and the treatment team.
Treatment for lung cancer gets altered and changed according to what each individual needs. There are a number of general principles that act as a starting point for the medical professionals who guide the treatment process, even with the principle that all courses of treatment are unique to the patient. People who have been diagnosed with lung cancer, to effectively advocate for themselves in the treatment process, should be acquainted with the various treatment options. They might want to know which treatments work best for their particular diagnosis, which are more cutting edge and which are established, which are not likely to work, and which are for treating symptoms rather than trying to cure the cancer.
One of the major considerations when deciding the course of treatment (as with most other cancers) is the stage of cancer development. In lung cancer, there are two major types: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is divisible into a number of different stages, and SCLC is divisible into two: limited and extensive. The exact stage of both of these primary types of lung cancer will be an important aspect to the decision making process.
For stages I, II, and III of NSCLC, surgery is a primary treatment. In stage IV, surgery may be used to control symptoms, but it is no longer considered a treatment aimed at curing the cancer. This is considered palliative care. For both stages of SCLC, surgery is indicated as the primary treatment.
Since the lung is necessary for life, thoracic surgeons carefully consider every patient’s needs before surgery. Preservation of healthy tissue is a major goal during the surgical process. This must be weighed with removing the entire tumor and surrounding area to eliminate the cancer. Tests are performed to estimate lung capacity to ensure that the patient will be able to breathe adequate with the reduced lung volume. Comorbid diseases such as emphysema complicate the issue of lung capacity. If surgery is not an option, alternate treatments are used.