Seven most commonly used cancer treatments are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, photodynamic therapy and laser surgery.
It is important that an early assessment of the patient is done to ascertain if the tumor is operable. Surgery often offers the best chance for a cure especially if the cancer has not spread.
Surgery is the oldest form of cancer treatment and can be used to:
- Diagnose lung cancer and find out how far it has spread
- Treat lung cancer
- Prevent lung cancer in some cases
Size, position, nodal spread, and evidence of mediastinal disease are factors which affect whether or not a tumor can be operated on.
Chemotherapy is the use of strong drugs or medicine to treat cancer.
- There are over 100 chemo drugs
- Chemo drugs are chosen for the patient based on the type and stage of the cancer
- Chemo drugs prevent the cancer from spreading
- Chemotherapy slows the rate at which the cancer grows
- Chemo kills cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body
- Chemo can cure cancer
This treatment is most suitable for stage 1 and 2 cancer patients. At this stage patients cannot be operated on or have refused to do a surgery. It can also be used for stage 3A and 3B patients once they are strong and healthy enough.
- Treatment may last 4 to 7 weeks
- Can be administered over a shorter period and is known to improve survival rate by 9% at two years when compared to conventional radical radiotherapy
- Suitable for patients with inoperable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
- Slows down the progression of the tumor and improves survival without significant increase in toxicity
This treatment involves the use of certain parts of the immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy stimulates the immune system to work harder or smarter.
- The most effective way to use immunotherapy to treat cancer is to use it along with or following another type of treatment, but it is sometimes used by itself
- It seems to work best when treating smaller, early stage cancers
- Immunotherapy is not as effective but it presents an option that may be less toxic for patients
5. Targeted Therapy
This form of treatment is used to prevent cancer from growing and spreading.
- Involves the use of enzyme inhibitors to block the growth of cancerous cells
- Some targeted therapies cause the protein within the cancer cell to change, resulting in the death of the cancerous cells
- Angiogenesis inhibitors are used to stop the body from making new blood vessels which could feed the tumor and cause it to spread
6. Photodynamic Therapy
This procedure involves the use of special light-sensitive drugs known as photosensitizing agents and light to kill cancer cells.
- Photodynamic therapy for lung cancer can be used to reduce symptoms such as bleeding and relieve breathing problems due to blocked airways
- It may also be used for small lung cancer tumors in patients for whom the usual treatments are not appropriate
7. Laser Surgery
Lasers are great for using in place of scalpels for surgical work.
- Lasers are more precise than scalpels and the heat from it helps to sterilize the edges of the body tissue being operated on, reducing the risk of infection
- There is less bleeding, swelling, pain and scarring as the heat from the laser seals the blood vessels
- The laser can be used to remove cancer from the lung, which allows patients to avoid surgery
- This treatment does not cure cancer but is effective in improving breathing and other symptoms.