Treating NSCLC

For NSCLC today, the general treatment options may include: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biomarker-driven therapy. These are often used in various combinations, depending on what is best suited to the person’s cancer.

a. Surgery

Surgery is more often an option at the early stages when the cancer is localized and has not spread outside the lung. It is often part of a plan that includes other types of treatments.

b. Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a treatment option that kills cancer cells with X-rays or other radioactive particles. External beam radiation is delivered from outside the body and directed at the cancer. Internal radiation therapy (Brachytherapy) uses a radioactive pellet that is placed inside the lung, directly into the cancer or next to it.

c. Chemotherapy

The aim of chemotherapy is to use anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells. These drugs may be injected or taken orally. They are usually given in 4 to 6 cycles, with each cycle lasting 3 to 4 weeks. Because these drugs get into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body, this type of treatment is useful for cancers that have spread.

d. Biomarker-driven therapy

Thanks to breakthroughs in genetics over the past decade, biomarker-driven therapy is giving doctors another important option for treating some people with NSCLC. For people whose tumors test positive for certain genetic factors, it may be possible to devise a course of treatment based on the particular genetic makeup of the tumor.

After Treatment

For some people, treatment may remove or destroy the lung cancer. The end of treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You’ll be relieved to finish treatment, yet it’s hard not to worry about cancer coming back. This is very common if you’ve had cancer.

For other people, the lung cancer may never go away completely. Some people may get regular treatments with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other therapies to try to keep the cancer in check for as long as possible. Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be difficult and very stressful. Living with cancer is different from living after cancer. Life after lung cancer means returning to some familiar things and also making some new choices.