Discussing Lung Cancer Treatment
The World Health Organisation estimates that cancer is the cause of a staggering 13% of deaths worldwide per year. Of all the different cancer types, lung cancer is the most deadly by a significant margin (1.37 million deaths per year, with the second most deadly- stomach cancer- accounting for a much smaller 736,000).
It is important then, if you or someone you know is suffering from lung cancer, to be aware of the different treatment options available and which ones are the most effective. As always, this information is intended only to improve awareness and in the unfortunate cases where readers are suffering from this disease, they should always listen to the expert advice of their doctors. The appropriate treatment will always depend on the type of cancer, its stage of progression, where the cancer is within the lung and the state of the sufferer’s health in general.
Lobectomy is the surgical removal of one or more ‘lobes’ of the lung in order to get rid of the infected tissue and prevent the cancer from spreading. This may require, in some cases, the removal of an entire lung (technically a pneumonectamy), but is only really suitable for non small-cell cancers and unless the cancer is in the early stages, may have to be paired with another treatment.
Chemotherapy is the use of cytotoxic drugs to prevent the growth of cancers on a cellular level. Small-cell lung cancers, which occur in 12 in every 100 sufferers, tend to respond well to this treatment and it is also favoured in cases where the cancer has spread beyond the lung.
Radiotherapy is the targeted use of radiation at the site of the cancer (in this case the lung, sometimes along with the brain depending on the risk of the cancer spreading) which is intended to kill the cancer cells. A course of radiotherapy normally lasts between 3 and 6 weeks, and can be given in tandem with chemotherapy to good effect.
Cryotherapy uses intense cold temperatures to freeze and kill tumours within the lung, most of which are then removed (but some may be expelled naturally post-surgery). This type of therapy has been shown to reduce symptoms in as many as 8 out of 10 patients.
PDT involves injecting the patient with a drug to make them highly sensitized to light. Later, the patient is placed under anaesthetic and a bronchoscopy is performed, during which an extremely bright light is shined onto the tumour which triggers the drug to kill the cancer cells.