Lung cancer is the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the lung.
Most cases of lung cancer are called non-small cell. There are a few different types of non-small cell lung cancer including squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
Small cell lung cancer is less common and is sometimes called oat cell. This type of lung cancer may grow and spread faster than non-small cell cancer.
Marshfield Clinic Cancer Specialists diagnose and treat all forms for lung cancer with the latest tools and techniques.
Treatment for lung cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these.
Surgery is usually recommended for early stage lung cancers with the goal to remove visible areas of cancer, which may require taking out all or part of a lung.
Several different operations can be used to treat lung cancer and, which one will be determined by the size and location of the tumor:
Segmentectomy or wedge resection: part of a lobe is removed in this surgery.
Lobectomy: a section (lobe) of the lung is removed in this surgery. This is the most common type of lung cancer surgery.
Sleeve resection: part of the airway is removed, with or without a portion of the lung, and the remaining ends are reattached. This procedure allows the surgeon to preserve lung tissue and avoid an aggressive action like removing an entire lung.
Pneumonectomy: the entire lung is removed in this surgery.
With any of these operations, lymph nodes are also removed to look for possible spread of the cancer.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.There are several forms of radiation therapy, which are prescribed for the treatment of lung cancer. They include:
External-Beam Radiation - This traditional form of radiation therapy delivers radiation from outside the body. This course of treatment is less precise, but allows a wider area of tissue around the tumor to be treated.
IMRT - Intensity Modulation Radiation Therapy (IMRT). This allows the radiation oncology team to:
Customize a patient's treatment to the size, shape and location of the tumor.
Minimize the amount of healthy tissue that is exposed to radiation.
Treat tumors previously considered untreatable.
TomoTherapy® - a form of IRMT that delivers highly precise radiation therapy from all angels which can be used for many tumors, including those that are hard to reach. TomoTherapy targets tumors using built-in CT scanning to confirm the shape and position of the tumor before each treatment.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) - Radiofrequency ablation is a newer radiation therapy treatment option, which involves heating the tumor with high-energy radio waves.
A thin, needle-like probe is placed through the skin and advanced until the end is in the tumor. Once it is in place, an electric current is passed through the probe, which heats the tumor and destroys the cancer cells.
This can be used for small tumors when surgery is not possible.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs interfere with the growth of cancer cells, eventually causing the cells to die.
Chemotherapy treatment is used to shrink the tumor, keep the tumor from spreading, and kill cancer cells that have spread to other areas of the body or relieve symptoms related to cancer.
The formation of new blood vessels feeding tumors is called angiogenesis. Anti-angiogenesis drugs work by cutting off a tumor's blood supply so the tumor starves and is prevented from growing and/or spreading.
Targeted therapy is a form of treatment that involves using drugs that target various proteins that contribute to the growth of cancer.
Unlike other treatment options like chemotherapy that kills both healthy and cancer cells, targeted therapies kill only cancer cells.