Lung Cancer Treatment Options: Beating Lung Cancer
True to most cases, the treatment of cancer depends on a variety of factors. Once a lung cancer has been staged, the physician and patient can now discuss between themselves treatment options that will be necessary. Patient must be well-informed of the side effects and possible outcome of a certain procedure.
Everything should be cleared beforehand to avoid regret. Other factors that are taken into account also includes the patient’s general health, medical problems that may affect treatment (such as chemotherapy), and tumor characteristics.
The characteristics of a lung tumor helps doctors separate patients into two groups: people with low risk of cancer recurrence and people with high risk of cancer recurrence.
Surgical resection is done with patients whose cancers have not yet spread beyond the lung. This is done through the following options: Thoracotomy – the opening of the chest wall for surgical procedures – and median sternotomy – surgery performed by cutting through the breastbone.
Other approaches include anterior limited thoractomy (ALT), thoractomy performed on the frontal chest using a small incision; anterioraxillary thoracotomy (AAT), thoracotomy performed on the frontal chest near the underarm; and posterolateral thoracotomy (PLT) thoracotomy performed on the back/side region of the trunk. ALT, in particular, is less invasive than standard thoractomy – that is, it involves less disturbance of the body by incisions or other intrusive measures. ALT may result in less surgical blood loss, less postoperative drainage, and less postoperative pain than standard thoracotomy.
Lately, other less invasive procedures are being performed for the removal of tumorous tissue. For example, the video-assisted thoracoscopy (VAT), otherwise known as video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS). This procedure uses a video camera to help envision and operate on the lung within the chest cavity. The surgical incisions made during VAT are more minor than those needed for thoracotomy or sternotomy.
However, physicians warn that VAT does not actually allow complete lung examination to identify and remove metastases that are not detected by preoperative chest X-ray. VAT is appropriate for Stage 1 and Stage 2 cancers that require lobectomy (surgical removal of a lung lobule) with lymphadenectomy (removal of one or more lymph nodes) and for peripheral (outer edge) lung tumors that can be removed by wedge resection.
Chemotherapy is the best option together with radiotherapy if the tumor is more aggressive and widespread.
Photodynamic therapy is most suitable for patients having inoperable lung cancer. This begins with the shot of a light-activated drug (e.g., photofrin/polyhaematoporphyrin, lumin). Then during examination of the airways using a flexible scope the lung tumor is illuminated by a laser that transmits light of a specific wavelength. The laser light is used to wipe out the sensitized tumor tissue.
Skin photosensitivity or light sensitivity is the side effect of PDT. The healing potential of PDT is the most exciting aspect of this therapy in lung cancer patients whose tumors are unseen on chest X-rays. The tissue-sparing effects of PDT may be particularly important for individuals with limited lung function.
Electrosurgery is performed using a needle, bulb, or disk electrode. Nd-YAG laser therapy (neodymium-yttrium/argon laser that concentrates high-energy electromagnetic radiation to destroy tissue), cryotherapy (destruction of tissue using extreme cold), and brachytherapy (treatment with ionizing radiation) are extra tumor size-reducing techniques that may be performed during bronchoscopy.
Radiotherapy – better known as radiation therapy – uses high energy radiation in order to kill cancer cells.
Cancer cells more often than not multiply quicker than other bodily tissues; they are affected by radiation which prevents cells splitting up and the formation of DNA.
Unfortunately, bodily tissues that also divide rapidly, such as the hair and skin, are very vulnerable to radiotherapy. The most side effects of this therapy include hair loss and skin disorders, such as skin redness due to blood vessel congestion; puritis, itching; desquamation, sloughing-off of outer skin layers; pain; atrophy, shrinking; increased pigmentation; edema, swelling), as well as fetal damage, increased susceptibility to infection, tachycardia (increased heart rate), changes in taste perception, anorexia (loss of appetite), malaise, nausea, and vomiting.
A good physician will discuss all the options available with their patient, as well as the possible side effects.