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Treatment for Lung Cancer

Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers provide advanced treatment for patients with lung cancer.

Affiliated specialists, specially trained staff and nurses offers leading cancer care personalized to meet the specific needs of each patient. Through diagnosis and treatment based in extensive knowledge and experience and delivered using advanced technology, we provide exceptional, effective care.

Lung Cancer Types

  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Small cell lung cancer
    • Small cell carcinoma (oat cell cancer)
    • Combined small cell carcinoma

Staging for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

First, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the lungs or to other parts of the body. The process used to determine if the cancer has spread is called staging, which is important in planning treatment. Some of the tests used to diagnose lung cancer are also used to stage the disease, including MRI, CT scan and PET scan.

Treatment for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

A variety of treatments are available for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Some are standard; others are being tested in clinical trials.

Lung Cancer Surgery

Four types of surgery are used:

  • Wedge resection removes a tumor and a small amount of healthy tissue surrounding it. When a slightly larger amount of tissue is taken, the procedure is called a segmental resection.
  • Lobectomy is surgery to remove an entire lobe (section) of the lung
  • Pneumonectomy removes the entire lung
  • Sleeve resection removes part of the bronchus

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays and other types of radiation to kill cancer cells.

External radiation therapy uses a linear accelerator to direct radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. Radiosurgery delivers radiation directly to the tumor with little damage to healthy tissue. It may be used to treat certain tumors in patients who cannot have surgery. A course of radiation therapy depends on the type and stage of cancer being treated.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. 

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors are two types of targeted therapy used in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy uses a laser beam to kill cancer cells.

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a drug and a type of laser light to kill cancer cells. The drug is not active until it is exposed to light and injected into a vein, after which it collects more in cancer cells than in normal cells.

Cryosurgery and Electrocautery

Cryosurgery, also known as cryotherapy, uses an instrument to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue. Electrocautery uses a probe or needle heated by an electric current to destroy abnormal tissue.

Chemoprevention

Chemoprevention uses drugs, vitamins or other substances to reduce the risk of developing cancer or reduce the risk that cancer will recur.

Adjuvant Therapy

Even if the surgeon removes all the cancer visible at the time of surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Clinical Trials and Research

As a teaching hospital affiliated with a medical school, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center offers access to innovative treatments and technologies early in their development and testing phases, and soon after being approved by the Food & Drug Administration. Find a study or trial.

Treatment for Small Cell Lung Cancer

For most patients with small cell lung cancer, current treatments do not provide a cure. If you have been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer, you may want to consider participating in one of the many clinical trials under way to improve treatment.