Treatments

Treatment depends on the size, type and stage of the tumour and on your own personal health.

Your doctor will decide the most suitable treatment that has the least side-effects and works best for you.

In general, there are three types of treatment used in the management of lung cancer. These are surgery, radiotherapy (X-ray treatment) and chemotherapy (treatment using drugs).

When deciding on the type of treatment, doctors will make the following decisions about your lung cancer:

The following factors are all taken into account when deciding what treatment approach will be right for you:

The lung tumour

Your health

Note: Age should not be a deciding factor when the above assessments are made.

Lung Cancer treatment options

Surgery: If the cancer has not spread widely (stages I and II), removing the tumour by surgery is the most common and effective form of treatment for non-small cell lung cancer. Surgery should be considered in all such patients and if surgery is not an option, patients should be offered an explanation as to why it is not possible. If the cancer has spread and surgery is not possible (this is more common in small cell lung cancer) then radiotherapy and chemotherapy are used (alone or in combination) to control symptoms by reducing the size of the tumour. In patients who develop collections of fluid within the chest, surgery can be used to control the fluid and improve breathlessness.

Chemotherapy: The general term for the treatment of cancer using drugs. The drugs that are used are designed to kill off cancer cells while causing less damage to normal cells. There are many different types of chemotherapy drugs which can be used on their own or, more commonly, in combinations. Patients with different types of lung cancer are likely to receive different combinations of chemotherapy drugs.

Radiotherapy: A general term for the treatment of cancer using x-rays. It is done by directing painless high-energy beams at the areas of the lung that need treatment. Radiotherapy works by killing cancerous cells and can be used either on its own or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy.