There are many treatment options available for lung cancer patients. Targeted therapy has become a more desired option due to its ability to provide precision medicine or personalized treatments for the type of biomarker that a patient might have.
Here are questions that you can ask your care team about your treatment options :
Is there anything I can do to help manage side effects?
How do you assess treatment response during my treatment? How do you know if my treatment is working?
What symptoms or side effects should I tell you about right away?
Do I need to change what I eat during treatment?
Are there any limits on what I can do as far as work or exercise?
Am I safe to be around others or in public spaces?
Can you suggest a mental health professional I can see if I start to feel overwhelmed, depressed or distressed?
Questions to ask your doctor during treatment Questions to ask your doctor when deciding on a treatment plan
Targeted therapy interrupts the growth and function of cancer cells by zeroing in on certain abnormalities in lung cancers cells. This affects cancer cells only and it helps to reduce damage to healthy cells.Questions to ask about targeted therapy
Videos: BIOMARKER DRIVEN TARGETED THERAPY
In surgery, a surgeon may remove the tumor, some surrounding lung tissue and nearby lymph nodes. This is an effective treatment option in the early stages when the cancer is unlikely to have spread.
Side effects: May include reactions to anesthesia, excess bleeding, blood clots in the legs or lungs, wound infections, pneumonia, pain at incision points, reduced movements, and shortness of breath with certain levels of activityQuestions to ask your surgeon
Radiation therapy uses powerful, high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. This targets cancer cells and can either be given from outside or from inside by placing radioactive material inside the tumor.
Side effects: May include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite and weight loss, skin changes in the area being treated, which can range from mild redness to blistering and peeling, hair loss where the radiation enters the body, damage to lungs causing cough and shortness of breath, sore throat and trouble swallowing, and radiation pneumonitisQuestions to ask your doctor about radiation therapy
Videos: RADIATION THERAPY
Chemotherapy uses medicine to treat cancer. It can be used to shrink or stabilize a tumor, kill leftover cancer cells after surgery or relieve symptoms of lung cancer. It is often used for Stage 4 patients with metastasized disease, and at other stages for tumors that cannot be surgically removed. It can be administered by infusion: injection, or taken orally in pill form.
Side effects: May include hair loss, mouth sores, loss of appetite or weight changes, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or constipation and reduced blood formation in bone marrowQuestions to ask your doctor about chemotherapy
Researchers are investigating ways to harness the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer — an approach known as immunotherapy. This uses medicine to activate the body’s natural defenses so they recognize and kill cancer cells. It is most commonly given for Stage 4 cancers and is usually administered intravenously for lung cancer.
Side effects: May include fatigue, cough, nausea, itching, skin rash, loss of appetite, constipation, joint pain and diarrhea.Questions to ask your doctor about immunotherapy
Lung cancer treatment can lead to side effects that vary from mild to severe. Following a few guidelines and making slight changes to your lifestyle can help to manage and reduce these side effects. Explore this page to learn about some of the more common side effects of treatment and how to cope with them.
Fatigue is defined as a lingering feeling of tiredness.
Get plenty of rest with short naps.
Do light to moderate physical activity.
Ask others to help with tasks.
Make sure to get good nutrition.
Shortness of breath can be caused by the cancer, by an infection or by the treatment itself. Call your doctor right away if you have tightness in your chest, pain, fever, or trouble breathing.
Call your doctor.
Make sure you’re following the instructions for taking your prescribed medications.
Do relaxation exercises.
Practice breathing techniques.
Skin reactions might include rashes, dryness, scaling, pain, redness and peeling.
Use gentle skin care products that contain lanolin or aloe.
Do not use skin products immediately before radiation treatment.
Protect yourself from the sun.
Call your doctor if you have a rash or anything else that concerns you.
Throat and mouth soreness might include difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and mouth sores.
Eat soft, moist foods.
Avoid spicy, greasy and sharp foods.
Suck on hard candy or popsicles.
Ask your doctor about sucking on ice chips before and after chemotherapy.
Clean your mouth by gargling with a cup of warm water that has 1 teaspoon of table salt or baking soda.
Treatment can make you more prone to infections and bleeding. Call your doctor immediately if you suspect an infection or you don’t stop bleeding.
Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
Avoid crowds or people who are sick.
Clean your mouth by gargling with baking soda and warm water.
Avoid handling flowers, plants and anything else that’s easily infected by mold.
Do not touch animal waste, including to clean a litter box.
Use a soft toothbrush.
Use an electric shaver instead of a razor.
Gastrointestinal issues might include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation.
Loss of appetite:
Eat several small meals throughout the day if you cannot manage eating three full meals.
Add olive oil, milk or yogurt to your meal to increase calories and protein.
Take a walk before you eat.
Nausea or vomiting:
Take medication prescribed by your physician to ease nausea.
Eat bland foods.
Drink peppermint tea, ginger tea or ginger. ale
Avoid high-fiber foods that are hard to digest, such as beans and raw vegetables.
Choose bland foods.
Instead of three meals a day, eat small portions of food more frequently, with plenty of water between meals.
Drink several ounces of fluids that aren’t caffeinated.
Eat high-fiber foods.
Some chemotherapy drugs can cause peripheral neuropathy, which is pain, tingling, burning, weakness or numbness in the hands and feet. Some cancer survivors also experience “chemo brain” and have a hard time remembering, focusing and multitasking.
Be careful when grabbing sharp or hot objects.
Wear shoes with rubber soles.
Remove throw rugs to prevent falls.
Get a gentle massage.Strategies for Coping with Chemo Brain.
Take notes during appointments or have a support person with you.
Do brain puzzles.
Make to-do lists.
Symptoms of anxiety and depression include the following :
Ongoing sad mood for most of the day
Loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities, most of the time
Inability to control feelings of worry
Trouble solving problems and focusing on your thoughts
Acting irritable, grouchy or short-tempered
Call your doctor immediately if you have thoughts of suicide.
Speak with a mental health professional, such as a social worker or psychologist; some specialize in treating people with cancer.
Spend time with family and friends.
Try deep-breathing and relaxation exercises.
Pray, if it’s part of your personal practice, or seek other types of spiritual support.
Hair loss is common after radiation or chemotherapy.
Use mild shampoos, soft hairbrushes and low-heat styling tools on your hair.
Buy a wig, sometimes referred to as a scalp prosthesis, and ask if your insurance will cover the expense.
Consider cutting your hair short or shaving it off to avoid watching your hair fall out.
Wear a hat or scarf.
What are cancer clinical trials?
Cancer clinical trials are the main way that medical science finds better ways to prevent and treat cancer. Clinical trials answer important scientific questions that can lead to future advances in care. Most of today’s standard treatments are based on previous clinical trial results. Because of the progress made in clinical trials, many people with cancer are living longer.Questions to ask your doctor about clinical trials
Clinical trials have benefited cancer patients in a number of ways:
1 Improved survival rates
2 Lower rates of cancer returning for many types of cancer
3 New treatments for cancers that previously had no effective therapy
4 Fewer side effects from treatment
5 Better quality of life
6 When you take part in a clinical trial, you may be among the first to benefit from a new treatment or prevention strategy. And you can feel good about being a part of something that may help other who have cancer.
Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements of a particular trial can participate. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are given first priority. Ask your doctor for more information about clinical trials that might be right for you.
New treatments being studied are not always more effective than the current standard of care. They may have similar or less effective results.
Even when a new treatment or prevention approach has benefits, not every patient in that trial will experience them.
New treatments or prevention approaches may have unexpected side effects or risks.
Consulting with your care team is the simplest way to find out about any clinical trials you may be eligible for. You can also visit the National Cancer Institute’s clinical trial search site at clinicaltrials.gov.
Complementary, Alternative and Integrative Medicine
This type of therapy employs such techniques as relaxation, talking, meditation, acupuncture, music, art therapy, and massage. It can be used with standard medical treatment to control pain, reduce anxiety, lessen side effects and improve your quality of life.
This is a treatment that can be used alone, but in lung cancer is most often used with standard medical treatment. When complementary and alternative treatments are used together, it is referred to as CAM. Alternative therapy is used instead of conventional treatment. However, most people with lung cancer who use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), usually take the integrative medicine approach described above.
Most people with lung cancer take in integrative approach, which means that they use CAM along with their standard medical treatment.
Always discuss these approaches with your doctor
It’s important to make sure that CAM will not interfere with your standard medical lung cancer treatment or cause side effects — and never stop your standard treatment without consulting your doctor.
Supportive Care Medicine
Your body will go through many changes during and after lung cancer treatment, and you may experience pain, stress and other symptoms. Supportive Care Medicine, also called palliative care, can help you manage these issues and improve your quality of life at any stage of your cancer journey.Learn more about cancer pain control