The three primary forms of treatment for lung cancer are surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. One or more of these therapies may be used to treat lung cancer, depending on the type and stage of the disease as well as your age and overall health.
Surgery is primarily used to remove the cancerous tumor from the lung. This therapy, called surgical resection, is usually used when the cancer has not spread to other tissues in the chest or elsewhere in the body and a total cure can be hoped for. It may be the first type of treatment you receive or it may follow chemotherapy and/or radiation, which are sometimes used first to shrink the size of the tumor(s). A surgeon usually removes nearby lymph nodes to check them for cancer. Three types of surgery are used in the treatment of lung cancer:
- Wedge or segmental resection: A small part of lung is removed. This is usually reserved for patients whose lung function does not allow larger resection.
- Lobectomy: An entire section (lobe) of the lung is removed.
- Pneumonectomy: Removal of the entire lung.
There are cases where initial surgery is not recommended. For example, when:
- cancer has spread to the other lung
- cancer has grown from the lung into other organs in the chest
- cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck or to other organs, such as the liver, kidneys or brain
- there are other health-related problems