Treatment Types Of Lung Cancer| Lung Cancer Types| Lung Cancer

Lung cancer

What Are The Types of treatment for Lung Cancer?

The methods of treatment for lung cancer depend on

  • the type of the disease viz., NSCLC (Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer) or SCLC (Small Cell Lung Cancer) ;
  • the Staging which is the extent of spread of the disease and
  • the tissues or the nature of other parts of the body affected by its invasion.

First, let us understand what is meant by NSCLC and SCLC.

NSCLC or Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer is the more commonly occurring disease that is found in different areas of lungs. Depending on the location of cancer that has sprouted, NSCLC is divided into three categories. If the cancerous growth has commenced in peripheral region of lung, the cancer is called Adino Carcinoma. If the cancer has started developing in the central region of lung, it is known as Squamous Cell Carcinoma and the third category Large Cell Carcinoma can occur anywhere in lung and is capable of spreading faster than the other two categories.

SCLC or Small Cell Lung Cancer is considered as more deadly than NSCLC because of its tremendous rate of spreading or extremely active metastasis. Most of the patients with SCLC are found to have lived not more than 4 to 5 months since the onset of SCLC. As its name suggests, the cancerous cells are of much in extremely diminutive size and the traditional treatments like radium therapy, clinical resection, chemotherapy cannot totally prevent its recurrence or relapse.

Methods/Types of treatment for Lung Cancer

The treatment for lung cancer patents, as said earlier, depends on the type of lung cancer and the extent of spread/metastasis of the disease. People with NSCLC can be treated with surgery/clinical resection, chemotherapy, radium therapy and targeted therapy or a combination of one or more of these treatments.

Patients of SCLC are given treatments of radiation therapy.

  1. Surgery: It is an operation conducted to cut and remove totally the cancerous outgrowth/lumps. Patients with NSCLC are recommended surgical treatment rather than the SCLC victims. The surgical method involves removal of lobes of the lungs called “lobectomy”. As per human anatomy, left lung is made up of two sections called “lobes” and the right lung consists of three lobes. If the cancerous growth has been detected very early and is in a small area, the lobe containing the tumour can be removed surgically by the procedure of lobectomy. But if the cancer is located in the central part of the lung, then the whole lung may have to be removed by a method known as “pneumonectomy”.  In addition to the removal of the entire lung or the other affected parts, a less invasive method is also sometimes selected called “Key-hole surgery” which the laparoscope is connected to a fiber optic camera. This allows surgeon to reach the actual tumor by surgical instruments by watching the image on the video screen. It is left to the sole decision of the surgeon as to what part of the lung is to be removed.

  2. Chemotherapy: This is a therapeutic use of chemical agents/substances through veins to destroy cancer cells. Before finalizing the treatment of chemotherapy, many factors are taken into consideration such as the type of lung cancer, the extent of spread of the disease, the nature of the other parts of the body affected by its invasion, age of the patient, the overall health of the patient, the enduring capacity/physical stamina of the patient for chemotherapy, previous surgeries (if any) undergone by the patient, other serious health problems pertaining to liver, heart, kidneys etc., the types of cancer treatments given in the past to the same patient. Chemotherapy drugs are relatively strong medicines with a narrow range of dose safety and effectiveness. A miniscule increase in dosage may have devastating side effects and a diminutive decrease in dosage cannot bring out anticipated positive change. Hence, dosage of chemotherapy drugs is determined with highest degree of accuracy and precision for each patient who can withstand chemotherapy. In addition to the dosage, the chemotherapy drugs are given at regular intervals called cycles. Based on the specific condition of each patient, drugs are given either daily or on alternate days or continuously for a few days in succession but followed by a well-calculated period of rest. The period of respite is compulsorily allowed for enabling the adjoining healthy cells to rejuvenate themselves from the harsh effects of chemotherapy. Some supplementary medicines are also given to help the healthy cells to regain strength during the intervals of recurring cycles.

  3. Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy involves use of high-energy radiation like X-rays or particles to decimate cancer cells. Doctors take up radiation therapy in the following circumstances :

  • If the lung tumour cannot be surgically removed because of its size and its location;

  • If the person is not healthy enough to withstand surgery;

  • If the person does not want to undergo surgery;

  • If there are any left-over cancer cells, even after surgical removal of tumor;

    lung cancer

  • To shrink the size of tumor by radiation therapy along with chemotherapy for facilitating the subsequent surgical removal;

  • To treat the single area of cancer spread such as a tumor in brain or in adrenal gland (along with surgery to treat the main tumor of the lung);

  • To alleviate the symptoms of advanced NSCLC such as pain, bleeding, trouble in swallowing, cough, pains caused by spread to other organs. For example, an internal radiation therapy called “brachytherapy” is used to decongest the large airways blocked by cancer.

4. Targeted therapy: This is the latest method of cancer treatment which is much less harmful than the traditional methods of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. In targeted therapy, the drugs or medicines are designed to block the growth and spread of cancer by preventing cancer cells from proliferation or by destroying them directly. The great merit of targeted therapy lies in that specially created substances are used to attack the cancer cells, without damaging the other adjacent healthy  cells unlike the other existing methods of chemotherapy or radiation therapy which are concomitant with inevitable side effects such as heating up the temperature of the body making it debilitated, withering of hair follicles from scalp within a very short time after treatment etc.The remedial drugs under targeted therapy are specially prepared taking into account the critical aspect of the DNA profile of cancer cells so as to kill the cancer cells directly without interfering with the surrounding healthy cells.

The targeted therapy is considered as the foundation of precision medicine. As the Targeted Therapy is an evolving science, it may not be at present able to address the grievances of all types of cancer. Considering the case of each individual patient, targeted therapy may be used as a supplementary method of treatment along with other traditional methods or it may even be used as a sole mode of treatment.