Chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer
Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs work by disrupting the growth of cancer cells.
In the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, chemotherapy is sometimes given after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. It also may help to shrink tumours before surgery or relieve symptoms if surgery isn't possible.
How chemotherapy is given
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The drugs are given by injection into a vein (intravenously) or sometimes as tablets (orally). Each session of chemotherapy may last a few days, followed by a rest period of a few weeks. This is known as a cycle of treatment. The number of cycles you have will depend on the type of cancer you have and how well it is responding to the treatment.
You may have your chemotherapy in the outpatient department, or you may be given tablets to take at home. Sometimes you may need to spend a night or two in hospital to have your treatment.
Doctors are always looking to improve the treatment of lung cancer, so you may be asked to take part in a clinical trial.
The drugs that are used
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The most commonly used drugs used to treat non-small cell lung cancer are:
Different types of non-small cell lung cancer may be treated using a single chemotherapy drug or different combinations of drugs.
Chemotherapy can cause unpleasant side effects. However, many people have few side effects, and those that occur can often be controlled well with medicines.