Cancer causes abnormal cells in the body to grow out of control. When the disease starts in the lungs, it is called lung cancer. Lung cancer can be treated in several different ways, depending on the type of lung cancer and how far it has spread. You can learn more about the different lung cancer treatments below.
The lungs are a pair of spongy organs in the chest that are responsible for taking in oxygen as you inhale and releasing carbon dioxide as you exhale. Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. It is a serious condition that begins in the lungs. In some cases, cancer may spread to the lungs from other organs, in a process called metastasis.
Smoking is the biggest cause of lung cancer, due to the carcinogenic substances in cigarettes. These can permanently damage lung tissue, which over time can cause cells to act abnormally,causing cancer to develop.
Diagnosing Lung Cancer
A number of processes are usually carried out to diagnose lung cancer,such as:
- A physical examination
- Evaluation of signs and symptoms
- Reviewing personal and family medical histories
- Imaging tests that examine the lungs
- A biopsy of the lungs
If lung cancer is diagnosed, other tests are done to assess how far the cancer has spread through the lungs, and other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes. This process is called staging.
Lung Cancer Treatments
Treatment for lung cancer depends on a number of different factors, such as the type of lung cancer, how far the cancer has spread, and overall general health.Lung cancer is divided into two major types based on the appearance of lung cancer cells under a microscope. These include:
- Non-small cell lung cancer – most common form of lung cancer that includes adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma
- Small cell lung cancer – typically occurs in heavy smokers. It is less common and usually spreads faster than non-small-cell lung cancer
These types of lung cancer grow differently and are therefore treated differently. People with non-small cell lung cancer may be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of treatments. Usually, people with small cell lung cancer are treated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
If lung cancer is diagnosed early and the cancer is confined to only a small area, surgery to remove the affected area of lung may be recommended.However, not everyone is a candidate for surgery, therefore, radiotherapy may be recommended instead. If the cancer cells have spread too far for surgery or radiotherapy to be effective, chemotherapy is usually used. Other medicines known as targeted therapies are also available for certain types of lung cancer, which can help to slow its spread.
How Does Lung Cancer Treatment Work?
There are a range of treatments for lung cancer that work in different ways:
- Surgery – an operation where doctors cut out cancerous tissue.
- Radiation therapy – uses high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to destroy cancerous cells.
- Chemotherapy– uses special medicines to shrink or kill cancer.Medications can be administered orally with pills orintravenously (directly into veins), or sometimes both.
- Targeted therapy– uses medication to block the growth and spread of cancer cells. Targeted therapies cannot cure lung cancer, but they can slow the spread. These medications can be administered orally or in the veins. With targeted therapy, tests are necessary to check that it is right for your cancer type before being used.
It isn’t always easy to choose a cancer treatment that is right for you, but your cancer doctor will explain what treatment options are available for your type and stage of cancer. They will discuss the risks, benefits, and side effects associated with each treatment to allow you to make an informed decision about your treatment.
Lung and Sleep Clinic in Weatherford, TX
At Lung and Sleep Specialists of North Texas, our board-certified providers can diagnose and treat many pulmonary conditions, including lung cancer. To treat your condition appropriately, our experienced providers will perform a thorough evaluation of your lung health and function. We will then work with you to develop a treatment plan that is personalized to your exact needs.
Lung and Sleep Specialists of North Texas provide holistic care and offer a full spectrum of pulmonary care, encompassing sleep medicine, chronic lung conditions, critical care, and allergy and immunology to improve the health and overall quality of life for patients.