Treatment overview for non-small cell lung cancer
People with non-small cell lung cancer are given different types of treatment depending on the stage of their cancer.
Non-small cell lung cancer can often be removed with surgery. If people have other medical problems, or aren’t fit enough to have surgery, then radiotherapy may be given instead.
Chemotherapy is sometimes used after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy) to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. It’s also sometimes given before surgery and/or radiotherapy. This is called neo-adjuvant chemotherapy.
Occasionally, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) may be used. This is only likely to be suggested if other treatments aren’t suitable for you. RFA is only available at some cancer centres, so you may have to travel for this treatment.
It may be possible to remove stage 2 non-small cell lung cancer with surgery. Radiotherapy may be used for people who aren’t fit enough for surgery or choose not to have it. Chemotherapy is often given following surgery or radiotherapy, to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
Non-small cell lung cancer can sometimes be removed with surgery, although this isn’t often possible because it may have spread too far. Chemotherapy may sometimes be given before an operation (neo-adjuvant treatment).
It’s more common to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy after surgery (adjuvant treatment).
If surgery isn’t possible, chemotherapy may be given instead. Radiotherapy may sometimes be given after the chemotherapy. You may also be treated with a targeted therapy.
Non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, or is affecting more than one lobe of the lung, is often treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The aim is to control symptoms and maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible.
Sometimes, a targeted therapy may be used if chemotherapy is no longer working. Radiotherapy may be used to shrink the cancer and reduce symptoms. Other treatments to relieve symptoms, such as laser therapy, cryosurgery and photodynamic therapy may also be used.