One or more types of treatment can be used. The kind of treatment used depends upon the type of cancer, its size, where it is in the lungs, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
Surgery involves removing the tumor, along with the diseased part of the lung. If the tumor is small and has not spread outside the lungs, surgery is about the best chance for a cure. In fact, if lung cancer is discovered in the early stages, one can expect a more than 50 percent cure rate. But some tumors cannot be removed because of their size and location. And some patients may have other health problems that make surgery impossible. In those cases, other options may be offered.
Radiation therapy uses powerful high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. The radiation is aimed at the tumor, and kills the cancer cells only in that area of the lungs. Radiation can be used before surgery to shrink the tumor. It may also be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells left in the lungs.
Chemotherapy uses special drugs to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy may be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells still present in nearby tissue or elsewhere in the body. It may also be used in more advanced stages of the disease to relieve cancer symptoms. Most of these drugs are either taken as a pill or given by IV (intravenous) line.