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Lung Cancer: Treatment Options

25 Oct 2013

What are the treatment methods available in lung cancer? There are a few methods of treatment available for lung cancer, depending on the following factors: 1) The type of lung cancer 2) The patient’s age and overall health 3) Stage of lung cancer (how far it has spread) From these factors, the doctors will choose the best treatment option available for the patient. Moreover, sometimes doctors may even combine treatments together for the benefit of the patient. There are two main goals of treatment. Curative treatment for patients who have a chance of being completely free of the disease. However, if a patient’s lung cancer cannot be cured completely, treatment is still given to reduce patient’s sufferings, make the patient more comfortable and improve quality of life. This treatment is called palliative management. Some of the treatment options available are as listed below :   1) SURGERY  – This treatment aims to ‘remove’ that part of the lung which is affected by cancer, be it the whole lung or just a part of it. Under this treatment, there are many types and these types are decided by how much the lung is affected. The types are as listed below : 1) Pneumonectomy : Doctors remove one entire lung (patient still breathes with remaining lung) 2) Lobectomy : Doctors remove one section (lobe) of the lung 3) Segmentectomy (wedge resection) : Doctors remove part of the lobe 4) Laser surgery : Doctors use a high energy beam of light to destroy the cancer cells in the tumour.   2) CHEMOTHERAPY – Chemotherapy is a form of medication that fights cancer and helps to stop it from spreading to other parts of the lung or even to other organs. They are given by intravenous drips (I/V), where the medicine is delivered into the patient’s veins by tubes, or given by a single injection. Tablets may be used as well. 1 3) RADIATION THERAPY – High energy radiation is delivered by a machine that directs high energy rays towards the cancer to kill cancer cells. Alternatively a radioactive pellet can also be implanted in or near the lung tumour to destroy cancerous cells. 2 4) PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY – With this, the patient is injected with a special medicine which is absorbed by cancer cells. The doctors will then shine a high energy laser light on the patient which activates the medicine in the cancer cells, thereby destroying the cancer cells. This treatment is only used for some early stages of lung cancer or to relieve blocked airways in some patients. 5) TARGETED THERAPY – This treatment is relatively new and is for certain kinds of non-small cell lung cancer. These come as a tablet which is taken once daily. Targeted therapies are indicated for some advanced lung cancers either along with chemotherapy or just by themselves. Different therapies have different goals, be it to block new blood vessel growth which is essential for tumour growth or drugs that inhibit certain factors and genes.   Prepared by A/PROF RUMI KHAJOTIA Helped by IMU students: CHEING WEI JIANN, GERALDINE LEE YUE HUI , LEE CHEE HUI, TAN YVONNE                   A/Prof Rumi Khajotia MBBS (Bom), MD (Bom), MD (Vienna), FAMA (Vienna), FAMS (Vienna) Associate Professor in Pulmonary and Internal Medicine, International Medical University, Malaysia Consultant Pulmonologist, Hospital Tuanku Ja’afar, Seremban, Malaysia A/Prof Rumi Khajotia is a Consultant Pulmonologist. His fields of interest include COPD, Bronchial Asthma and Lung Cancer. He has published a number of research articles and case studies in peer-reviewed international medical journals, on these subjects.

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