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Although lung cancer is generally operable, by using either traditional open surgery, or one of the less intrusive and more sophisticated video-assisted thoracoscopic surgeries (VATS), often it may not be considered to be the best option for a patient. Where ill-health is a factor, or either the size and location of the tumor is deemed to be a consideration, other forms of treatment may well have to be considered.
However, other forms of treatment may also depend much on the type of lung cancer that is being treated and it's staging. Be it the more rapid growing Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) that makes up for between 10% - 15% of all diagnosed cases, or the more common and slower growing Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC).
The most common of these treatment options offered may include:
1. Chemotherapy tends to be the conventional lung cancer treatment used that everyone has heard of. Today it uses a cocktail of over 100 different drugs and works by destroying the cancerous cells and stopping their spread. However, although considered to be an acceptable treatment, it does tend to cause many unwanted side-effects.
2. External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) which is usually offered when the lung cancer is either considered to be primary, or when it has metastasized (spread to other organs). This form of treatment uses a linear accelerator machine to focus a precise beam of radiation on a given area of the body for a precise period of time to kill off cancerous cells.
Although still widely used throughout the modern world, it is now actually beginning to be considered as old hat, and for this reason is slowly being replaced by a range of newer and more efficient technologies. These newer technologies tend to include:
1. Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT) which is used to deliver a precise dose of multiple radiation treatment fields to a patient.
2. Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is also used by modifying the radiation beams by varying their intensity. This is a more specialized form of the 3D-CR treatment.
3. Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) delivers small high doses of high radiation to a precise target within the body, and is usually considered for early stage lung cancer.
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"Is Lung Cancer Operable? : Lung Cancer Treatment Options." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Jun 2019
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4. Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) is the most advanced radiation treatment available to date; however, due to its recent development, it is still not widely available for use. Rather than use X-rays as previous with treatments, PBT concentrates on the use of proton beams to kill off cancer cells.
5. Internal Beam Radiation Therapy (Brachytherapy) may be used as a stand-alone treatment, or with chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before an operation, or when the patient is unable to be operated on due to the size or location of the tumor. Brachytherapy tends to cause less damage than other treatment types due to its preciseness. It uses a bronchoscope, which is a flexible lighted instrument inserted into the area of the trachea (windpipe) to relieve the airways that may be blocked by placing small amounts of radioactive material either directly into the cancerous cells, or next to them.
6. Clinical Trial Treatments may also be used where a patient is offered newly available combinations and doses of medicines that are still in the process of research and development. These types of treatments are usually offered when either existing or previous treatments have shown little or no success.