Lung cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the lungs. It occurs when the cells in the lungs grow abnormally and form a tumor. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, accounting for about 1.8 million deaths in 2020. There are several treatment options available for lung cancer, and the choice of treatment depends on several factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, the patient’s age and overall health, and the patient’s preferences.
The most common treatments for lung cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
Surgery is the most common treatment for lung cancer that has not spread beyond the lungs. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor and a portion of the surrounding healthy lung tissue. There are two types of surgery for lung cancer:
Lobectomy: In a lobectomy, the surgeon removes the entire lobe of the lung that contains the tumor.
Wedge resection: In a wedge resection, the surgeon removes only a small wedge-shaped piece of the lung that contains the tumor.
Surgery may also be used to remove lymph nodes near the lungs to determine if the cancer has spread beyond the lungs.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with surgery or chemotherapy. There are two types of radiation therapy:
External radiation therapy: In external radiation therapy, a machine outside the body directs radiation at the cancer cells.
Internal radiation therapy: In internal radiation therapy, radioactive material is placed inside the body near the cancer cells.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with surgery or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy drugs are usually given intravenously, but they can also be taken orally. Chemotherapy can cause side effects such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and hair loss.
Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets specific genes or proteins that are involved in the growth and survival of cancer cells. Targeted therapy drugs are often used to treat non-small cell lung cancer. They are usually given orally and are less likely to cause side effects than chemotherapy.
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that stimulates the immune system to help fight cancer. Immunotherapy drugs are usually given intravenously. They work by blocking proteins on cancer cells that hide them from the immune system or by boosting the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer cells.
In addition to the above treatments, there are also several other treatments that may be used to treat lung cancer, including:
Photodynamic therapy: This treatment uses a drug and a special type of light to kill cancer cells.
Radiofrequency ablation: This treatment uses radio waves to heat and destroy cancer cells.
Cryosurgery: This treatment uses extreme cold to freeze and destroy cancer cells.
The choice of treatment for lung cancer depends on several factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, the patient’s age and overall health, and the patient’s preferences. It is important to discuss the options with a healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan for each individual patient.