Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Treating Lung Cancer

Treating Lung Cancer

Dr. Shanda Blackmon offers an overview of VATS lobectomy, a minimally invasive form of lung surgery.

Treating Lung Cancer

Once lung cancer has been diagnosed, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments.

Surgery
Radiation Therapy
Chemotherapy
Targeted Therapy

Surgery
Surgery for lung cancer removes the tissue that contains the tumor in addition to the nearby lymph nodes. The surgeon will remove either:

  • a small part of the lung (wedge resection or segmentectomy)
  • a lobe of the lung (lobectomy or sleeve lobectomy), or
  • the entire lung (pneumonectomy).

More on surgery

 

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells in a specific area. It may be used as an alternative for patients who cannot have surgery (usually along with chemo), before surgery to shrink tumors, or after surgery to “clean up” cancer cells that remain in the lungs.

There are two main types of radiation therapy available to treat lung cancer:

  • External Radiation Therapy: A large machine directs radiation rays at your chest. Sessions take only a few minutes each and usually occur 5 days a week for several weeks.
  • Internal Radiation Therapy (also called Brachytherapy): Your doctor places a small source of radioactive material (usually in the form of seeds or pellets) directly into the tumor or into the airway next to the cancer cells.

More on radiation therapy

 

Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy kills lung cancer cells using drugs, administered either through an IV line or orally. It may be used as an alternative for patients who cannot have surgery (usually along with radiation), before surgery to shrink tumors, or after surgery to kill cancer cells that may be  left behind.

You may receive your treatments in a clinic, at the doctor's office, or, if oral chemotherapy is prescribed, at home. Chemo is given in cycles, with each round of treatment followed by a rest period. Cycles generally last about 3–4 weeks, and a complete treatment program may involve 4–6 cycles.

The side effects depend mainly on the type and amount of drugs you receive.

More on chemotherapy

 

Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy uses drugs, given either intravenously or orally, to block the growth and spread of cancer cells. They can do this in several different ways, including:

  • Preventing new blood vessels from forming to “feed” the tumor
  • Blocking the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a protein that helps the cells grow and divide
  • Targeting a problem in a gene called ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase), which occurs in about 5 percent of non-small cell lung cancers

 

Learn more about lung cancer:

For more information about lung cancer treatment at the Methodist Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call us at 713-441-LUNG (5864).