Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop cancer cells' growth, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. The way this cancer treatment is administered depends on the type and stage of the lung cancer.
When chemotherapy is injected into a vein or muscle or taken orally (by mouth), the drugs can enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body. This is called systemic chemotherapy.
When chemotherapy is placed directly into a body cavity such as the abdomen, an organ, or the cerebrospinal fluid, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas. This is called regional chemotherapy.
Targeted therapy includes drugs, antibodies, or other proteins that target and disrupt specific cancer cells' proteins. These disrupted proteins are critical for the cancer cell's survival, so the treated cell dies or stops multiplying. Targeted therapies usually cause less harm to healthy cells than chemotherapy or radiation therapy does.
There are three types of targeted therapy being used to treat metastatic, advanced, or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer. These include:
- Monoclonal antibodies: Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made immune system proteins. They are made to treat many diseases, including lung cancer. When used as cancer treatment, these antibodies can attach to a specific target on cells that allow cancer cells to grow. The antibodies can then kill the cancer cells, keep them from spreading, or block their growth. Given by infusion, monoclonal antibodies may be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to cancer cells.
- Tyrosine kinase inhibitors: These small-molecule drugs go through the cell membrane and work inside cancer cells. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors block the signals that cancer cells need to continue growing. Specific tyrosine kinase inhibitors also have angiogenesis inhibitor effects, blocking the nutrients a tumor needs to grow.
- Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors: These inhibitors block a protein called mTOR, which may keep cancer cells from growing and prevent new blood vessels' growth which tumors need to grow.
Immunotherapy for Lung Cancer
Immunotherapy is a type of biologic therapy. Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that aids your immune system in fighting cancer.
There are a variety of immunotherapy types, each working in its unique way. Some immunotherapy treatments are designed to help the immune system slow or even stop cancerous cells' growth. Others support the patient's immune system in destroying cancer cells and preventing lung cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.
There are currently two types of immunotherapy used to treat lung cancer - immune checkpoint inhibitors and adoptive T-cell therapy.
Laser Therapy for Lung Cancer
Laser therapy is a group of cancer treatments that use laser beams to kill lung cancer cells.
Watchful waiting closely monitors a patient's condition without giving any treatment until signs or symptoms appear or change. Your oncologist may decide on watchful waiting in certain rare cases of non-small cell lung cancer.