Best Lung Cancer Treatment Options
A suitable treatment plan is formulated for each lung cancer patient, depending on several factors, including:
- type of lung cancer: non-small-cell lung cancer or small-cell lung cancer
- Size and location of the cancer
- Stage: how aggressive is the cancer
- Overall health of the patient
- Patient’s personal preference and doctor’ recommendation
The treatment can be very challenging as it includes more than just a routine medical diagnosis, surgery, and hospitalized care. Patients need moral support from their family, friends, and peers to recover early along with the professional help and advice from a consultant. The options for lung cancer treatment include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
There are 3 types of surgery options for lung cancer treatment:
Lobectomy – In this surgery, one or more large parts of the lung, referred to as lobes, are removed. The surgeon will recommend this operation if the cancer is localized to one section of a lung.
Pneumonectomy – The entire lung is removed during this surgery. This type of surgery is recommended when the lung cancer is present in the middle part of the lung or it has spread through the entire lung.
Wedge resection or segmentectomy – In this surgery, only a small piece of the lung is removed. Not all patients are suitable for this procedure. It is usually recommended by the doctor when the cancer is an early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer, which means it is small and restricted to one area of the lung.
The surgery is performed with general anesthesia and patient remains unconscious during the procedure. After the operation, they are shifted to a recovery room and then to a normal hospital room for recovery.
The two primary types of radiation therapy used for lung cancer treatment are:
External beam radiation therapy (EBRT): In this, a high doses of radiation is delivered to lung cancer cells from outside the body.
Internal radiation: A high doses of radiation is delivered using implants that are placed inside or close to the tumor in the body. High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a popular method for this type of radiation treatment.
The best lung cancer hospitals in India offer advanced methods of radiation delivery such as stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). These are precise targeting technique to deliver radiation to the tumor while preventing damage to the surrounding healthy tissues. This lowers the chances of complications and side effects of treatment. It is primarily used for an early stage, localized disease.
Many patients with a small localized lung cancer might not be suitable candidates for a surgery. A radiation treatment with stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) can be beneficial for these patients. The patients who may not candidates for surgery and eligible for SBRT include the patients who are old, have chronic heart failure, or those taking blood thinning drug that increases their risk of bleeding during surgery.
In a SBRT treatment, many small, focused beams of radiation are used to track the lung tumor along with its movement with respiration. During a treatment session, the doctor delivers very high doses of radiation therapy precisely targeting the lung cancer. The radiation is typically given over several (3-5) sessions.
Other treatment options include:
- Adjuvant therapy: This refers to the therapy given after lung cancer surgery to minimize the risk of lung cancer recurrence. Adjuvant therapies include the following procedures:
- Chemotherapy: A medical oncologist will prescribe you the drugs to kill the remaining cancer cells. This therapy may also damage the normal cells of the body and potentially result in side effects.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is intended to abandon the action of abnormal proteins responsible for the gene mutation.
- Combination therapy: Combination therapy is generally advised. It involves a combination of the above-mentioned therapies to get more positive results and ensure early recovery.