At Carle Cancer Center, the latest state-of-the-art treatments and technologies are available to our patients. It is important to remember that different cancers require different treatments based on a variety of factors. For this reason, your treatment plan will be designed to meet the needs and requirements of your specific form of cancer.
Physicians will create an individualized treatment plan for each patient. Treatment plans depend upon:
- Exact location of tumor
- Stage of cancer
- Patient’s age
- General health of patient
Patients and physicians will confer to carefully consider treatment options, while considering how the treatment might change a patient's appearance, speech ability, and eating and breathing. There is much to consider, and each step will be carefully analyzed for the best interest of the patient. Treatment options may include:
- Surgery, which is often the first treatment for tumors
- Chemotherapy, which kills cancer cells through the use of drugs carried through the bloodstream
- Radiation therapy
Chemotherapy for lung cancer can be given orally or intravenously. By far, the most common method of administration is directly into the bloodstream. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach all parts of the body. Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles. Periods of chemotherapy treatment are alternated with rest periods when no chemotherapy is given. Chemotherapy may be administered in a single day, over the course of 3 days to a week or even once a month. The frequency of chemotherapy depends largely on the type of cancer and type of drug or drugs being given. The length of time for chemotherapy is based on evidence guidelines, response to treatment, and side effects. Depending on the cell type and stage of the Lung cancer, most individuals receive chemotherapy for 4-6 cycles.
Very few regimens require hospital admission. Some chemotherapy drugs come in an oral form and can be taken at home. By far the most common setting for chemotherapy administration is in a specialized chemotherapy infusion center which is staffed by specially-trained infusion nurses.
Common drugs given for gynecological cancers include Taxol, Alimta, Carboplatin, Gemzar, Etoposide and Cisplatin.
Side effects from chemotherapy can be well controlled and may include hair loss, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, appetite changes, nausea or vomiting, numbness or tingling of hands and feet.
Radiation oncology aims to reduce tumors by creating chemical changes within cancer cells. Because it is highly localized, radiation therapy produces limited side effects and is one of the most precise treatment options available. Radiation therapy may be delivered in one of the following forms:
- External Beam
The most common type of radiation therapy, external beam radiation therapy is designed to target a specific part of your body. The treatment machines aim high-powered beams inside the body at cancer cells to prevent them from dividing.
A form of external beam therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) breaks the radiation into thousands of thin beams to better target the cancer and minimize effects on surrounding tissue.
Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), one of the most cutting edge innovations in fighting cancer, combines imaging and treatment capabilities on a single machine.
3D Conformal Radiation Therapy uses CT, MRI or PET technology to more precisely target tumors gauging width, height and depth; 4D conformal radiation therapy includes respiratory gating, which monitors the patient's breathing and respiratory cycle to determine the exact moment to deliver the most effective radiation.
- Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT)
SBRT is a form of radiation therapy in which a high dose of radiation is delivered to a highly focused area. Using multiple radiation beam angles, radiation oncologists are able to target the tumor only and spare healthy tissue.
Learn more about SBRT
Surgery may be an option for lung cancer depending on the stage, type of lunch cancer and the health status of the individual. Many tests should be performed by your physician before deciding if surgery is an option. All of this information will help the surgeon decide which, if any, surgery will be performed.
Types of Lung Surgery
- Pneumonectomy - removal of an entire lung
- Lobectomy - removal of a lobe or section of the lung
- Wedge resection - removal of part of a lobe of a the lung
- Sleeve resection - removal of the cancerous part of the airway tube (the bronchus) with a reconnection of the two healthy ends of the air tube
Surgery requires hospitalization and the use of general anesthesia. The risks and side effects from surgery depend on the type of surgery performed but generally include:
- Bleeding or infection
- Damage to your heart, lungs, nerves or blood vessels in your chest
- Continued pain in the chest wall
- Shortness of breath or breathing problems that could be long lasting
- Voice or vocal cord issues that can cause problems speaking
- Risks from general anesthesia