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What are the treatment options for non-small cell lung cancer?

The type of treatment you will receive for your non-small cell cancer will be dependent on the stage of cancer you have.

Stage I lung cancer is when the cancer has not moved beyond the lung. Treatments for Stage I non-small cell cancer are surgery to remove a portion of your lung, followed by chemotherapy, which is the treatment of cancer with drugs.

Stage II lung cancer is when the cancer has spread to either the lymph nodes or to other areas right next to the place where the tumor started, such as the heart wall or diaphragm. Treatments for Stage II non-small cell cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, which is the treatment of cancer using beams of energy.

Stage III lung cancer is when the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or to other areas on the opposite side of the body from where the tumor started. Treatments for Stage III non-small cell cancer are chemotherapy and radiation combined, and sometimes surgery.

Stage IV lung cancer is when the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, or metastasized. This is the last stage of cancer and is most often fatal. For this reason, in addition to chemotherapy and targeted drug therapy, if you have Stage IV cancer, you may want to take part in clinical trials of new drugs or simply look into supportive care.
A number of treatments are available for people who have been diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer:

Surgery
  • Wedge resection is surgery to remove a tumor and some of the normal tissue around it. When a slightly larger amount of tissue is taken, it is called a segmental resection.
  • Lobectomy is surgery to remove a whole lobe (section) of the lung.
  • Pneumonectomy is surgery to remove one whole lung.
  • Sleeve resection is surgery to remove part of the bronchus.
Radiation therapy
  • Three-dimensional (3-D) conformal radiation treatment
  • Intensity-modulated radiation treatment (IMRT)
  • Internal radiation treatment or brachytherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery. Also called radiation surgery, radiosurgery and stereotaxic radiosurgery.
  • Proton therapy
Chemotherapy
 
Laser therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

Watchful waiting (expectant management)
 
Chemoprevention
 
Biologic therapy

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.