Lung Cancer - Treatment

The doctor looks for the following features before treating lung cancer:

  • Type of lung cancer (small cell or non-small cell)
  • The stage of the lung cancer, including whether any other parts of the body are affected
  • The size of the lung cancer
  • If surgery is done to remove the cancer, how many of the neighbouring lymph nodes which were involved and were all involved lymph nodes removed at surgery?
  • Patient's general condition, whether he has other medical problems that may affect the ability to treat his lung cancer effectively, for example, fitness for surgery

 Treatment for Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

Non small cell lung cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy alone or a combination.

Stage I and stage II cancer, where the cancer is localised to one part of the lung only, is usually treated with surgery to remove the lung cancer. Sometimes after surgery, further chemotherapy may be recommended to reduce the change of the cancer from returning.

For patients with stage III lung cancer, where the cancer may be large (>7cm), or have spread to the lymph nodes between both lungs, a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to the lungs may be recommended.

For stage IV lung cancer, where the lung cancer cells have spread to other parts of the lungs and/ or body, further tests of the biopsy specimen to subtype the cancer further may help determine whether chemotherapy or targeted therapy with specific tablets will be more suitable.

Treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

Small cell lung cancer is mostly treated with chemotherapy, due to its tendency to spread early to other organs, such as liver, bone and brain. If the cancer is still localised to one part of the lung and within the lymph nodes of the lung, radiotherapy to the lungs is administered together with chemotherapy. This combination of chemo-radiotherapy has been shown to have better results than just chemotherapy alone for patients with localised cancer. Surgery is usually not recommended for small cell lung cancer. The exact choice of chemotherapy medicine will depend on the person's general health and other prevalent medical problems. 

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