A diagnosis of lung cancer is a life-altering moment for you and your loved ones. When it is time to discuss your treatment options, making an informed decision about your treatment plan is important. Having a thorough knowledge of your options for lung cancer treatments can help you make treatment decisions that may improve your survival rates while giving you the best quality of life possible.
Consider The Type Of Cancer
Lung cancers are generally divided into three categories, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), small cell lung cancer (SCLC), and lung carcinoid tumors. NSCLC is the most common category and often linked with heavy tobacco use over decades. Several types of lung cancer may be considered a NSCLC, depending on the specific type of cell that is malignant. SCLC is less common than NSCLC and is more likely to develop in non-smokers.
Although there is no way to guarantee how quickly cancer progresses and responds to treatment, SCLC tends to progress more rapidly than NSCLC and may be less responsive to treatment. Fortunately, the least common type, lung carcinoid tumors, typically progresses slowly. This means lung carcinoid tumors are more likely diagnosed in the earlier stages when treatments have a higher likelihood of being successful.
Surgery, whether only a portion or the entire lung is removed, has been linked with longer survival rates in NSCLCs, but surgery is not used as a component of treatment in many lung cancer cases. Surgery is most likely used in the earlier stages of lung cancer when the cancer is confined to a specific portion of the lung or a single lung. In advanced lung cancer, some surgeons may elect to perform surgery if other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, have been successful at shrinking primary and metastatic tumors.
If surgery has not been considered as part of your treatment, you may want to discuss the reason with your doctor or consider a second opinion. Depending on your prognosis and your personal decisions regarding treatment, surgery may increase your five-year survival rate when combined with traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. Even if you have a diagnosis of late-stage, incurable cancer, surgery can be the key to living additional months or years, if time is your major concern.
Try A Holistic Approach
Many people only think of holistic approaches to cancer treatment as a disregard for traditional treatment options, but this is untrue. Finding a doctor or a team of medical specialists who take a holistic approach to treating lung cancer may translate into better outcomes and more satisfaction with the care you receive. In addition to conventional treatment methods, you may want a nutritionist to help you develop an appropriate diet based on your needs. Unfortunately, side effects are common with any cancer treatment, and to help aid your body in staying strong enough to receive treatments, a customized nutrition plan can be invaluable. The integration of alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, may help with side effects, insomnia, stress, depression, and anxiety.
Find Clinical Trials
Ongoing research in the area of lung cancer means there are new experimental treatments. Many people only think of clinical trials in regards to a diagnosis of late-stage or terminal lung cancer; however, seeking clinical trials in the earlier stages may have some benefits. Since researchers may be developing treatments that are designed to assist people in different stages of cancer, you may want to participate at an earlier stage of cancer, when lung cancer is more treatable and the five-year survival rate is higher. For example, one clinical trial is showing some early success in extending life expectancy in participants with SCLC.
There are many factors to consider when facing treatment decisions for lung cancer. The type and staging of your cancer combined with longevity and quality of life considerations will all play a role in helping you decide on the best course of action for your treatment.