Mesothelioma Attorneys

Lung Cancer Treatment

Asbestos Cancer Lawyer

Lung cancer treatment depends on the type of lung cancer you have and what stage it is in. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer caused by asbestos, but it can also cause non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) which is more responsive to treatment. When mesothelioma invades the lungs, it is called secondary lung cancer, and may still respond to curative treatments.

Treating Small Cell Lung Cancer

Like mesothelioma, SCLC is very aggressive and is usually not detected until it has progressed significantly. SCLC is only divided into two stages:

  • Limited – cancer is confined to the chest
  • Extensive – cancer has spread to other parts of the body

Surgery is rarely a curative option in SCLC, but is sometimes effective in limited SCLC and is used as a palliative treatment in extensive SCLC. Chemotherapy is used in both limited and extensive SCLC.

SCLC is very sensitive to radiation, so radiation therapy is a standard choice for treating limited SCLC, but is typically a last resort in extensive SCLC because when the cancer has spread the radiation must be applied to too large of an area of the body. In extensive SCLC, radiation is sometimes applied to the brain as a preventative measure because SCLC so commonly metastasizes to the brain.

Treating Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

NSCLC is typically slower growing and slower to spread than SCLC. NSCLC is broken into Stages 0-IV and even into substages. For stage 0, surgery alone will normally remove the cancer with complete effectiveness because the cancer is confined to the tumor.

In stages I and II surgery alone is the preferred treatment, but may involve removing an entire lung. In patients who do not have the lung capacity to withstand surgical resection, radiation may be used instead.

Stage IIIA NSCLC is typically treated with surgery combined with chemotherapy. If surgery is not a realistic option, chemotherapy is combined with radiation instead. In stage IIIB, surgery is no longer a curative option, so chemotherapy and radiation are used together.

The only curative option for stage IV NSCLC is chemotherapy, but NSCLC is not very responsive to chemotherapy drugs. Radiation and surgery may be used for palliative treatment in stage IV.