Lung cancer is a form of cancer that appears within the lungs. This is the most common form of cancer that results in death. Although anyone can develop lung cancer, smokers are more at risk than non-smokers. However, quitting smoking cigarettes can help lower this risk.
There are different treatment options for lung cancer, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Both small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) can be treated with either one or a combination of these treatments. Read on to better understand how chemotherapy is employed to effectively kill cancer cells.
- When is chemotherapy for lung cancer used?
- How is chemotherapy for lung cancer administered in the body?
- Chemotherapy for small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
- Chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
- Chemotherapy for lung cancer before surgery
- Chemotherapy for lung cancer after surgery
When is chemotherapy for lung cancer used?
Depending on the type of cancer and the extent to which it has progressed, several treatments may be used for lung cancer. Since chemotherapy is a systemic treatment (treatment that reaches and affects the cells of the entire body), it can destroy any possible lung tumours that have progressed.
Chemotherapy is the main treatment for people who have been diagnosed with SCLC because it is known to be efficient enough to bring favourable results. It is also effective because often the cancer has advanced since it was first detected. Chemotherapy can also be used to treat NSCLC along with surgery.
How is chemotherapy for lung cancer administered in the body?
Usually, chemotherapy is given through an IV drip, which requires a few hours. This is known as intravenous chemotherapy. It can also be administered through an injection, which only takes a few minutes, and the absorption is also quicker.
Sometimes, chemotherapy drugs can also be ingested in the form of capsules and tablets. This is known as oral chemotherapy. The drugs are encased in a protective coating that is broken down by stomach acid. Certain chemo drugs can be encased in various protective coatings that are released at different times in the system, allowing for a delay, which is known as extended release. This approach allows for longer intervals between dosages.
To deliver chemo, a slightly larger and sturdier IV is frequently necessary in the venous system. They are also referred to as central lines, central venous catheters, or central venous access devices (CVADs). They are used to directly inject medications, blood products, nutrients, or fluids into your bloodstream. They can be used to extract blood for testing as well.
This therapy can take place at a specialised cancer treatment centre, your doctor’s clinic, or a hospital.
Chemotherapy is administered in cycles, with each treatment period followed by a rest interval to allow you to recuperate from the effects of the medications. Chemo cycles are usually 3 or 4 weeks long. The timetable varies according to the drugs utilised.
This therapy can take place at a specialised cancer treatment centre, a chemotherapy centre, or a hospital.
Chemotherapy for small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
SCLC is mostly treated with chemotherapy due to how rapidly the illness can progress. Whether the illness is classified as limited-stage SCLC or extensive-stage SCLC can affect the treatment plan. Chemotherapy, together with chest radiotherapy, is administered every day over a couple of weeks to patients with limited-stage SCLC. Patients with advanced-stage SCLC primarily undergo 3–4 months of chemotherapy. Patients with extensive-stage SCLC primarily get chemotherapy as well as immunotherapy for three to four months, after which they continue immunotherapy as support.
Chemotherapy drugs used for SCLC include:
- Cisplatin and etoposide
- Carboplatin and etoposide
- Cisplatin and irinotecan
- Carboplatin and irinotecan
Chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
Chemotherapy is administered before or following surgery to remove NSCLC lung tumours. Even lung tumours that have been entirely removed surgically or eliminated by radiation treatment might reappear. This occurs when microscopic (very small) cancer cells spread outside of the main lung tumour. Your surgeon and a lung specialist cooperate carefully to determine whether adding chemotherapy to your care plan before or after surgery may improve your outcome. Some patients with NSCLC have lung tumours that have already progressed when they are diagnosed. Radiation therapy along with chemotherapy may be advised by lung specialists if cancer spread locally to the chest. Lung specialists might advise chemotherapy alone or with immunotherapy if lung cancer has spread to other internal organs.
Chemotherapy drugs used for NSCLC include:
Chemotherapy for lung cancer before surgery
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is the type of chemotherapy for lung cancer given before surgery. Before surgery, chemotherapy must be administered for a few months. In some cases, it may be possible to completely remove cancerous lymph node cells before surgery. For stage 3 NSCL, the healing rate has increased because of neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy for lung cancer after surgery
Adjuvant chemotherapy is a type of chemotherapy for lung cancer that is administered post-surgery. Several variables, such as the size of your lung tumour, will determine if your lung specialist advises using this approach. When cancerous cells have migrated towards the lymph nodes, adjuvant treatment is frequently advised.
Which type of lung cancer can be effectively treated with chemotherapy?
Small-cell lung cancer can be effectively treated with chemotherapy. When small cell lung cancer is discovered, it frequently has already progressed outside the lung. To treat cells that have already detached from the lung tumour and progressed to other organs of the body, chemotherapy medications travel throughout the body via the circulatory system and kill them.
At what stage of lung cancer is chemotherapy used?
Lung cancer in stages 1, 2, 3, and 4requires chemotherapy with other treatment approaches.
How many rounds of chemo do you need for lung cancer?
The number of rounds of chemotherapy for lung cancer depends on the severity of the condition. Usually, patients require 4–6 rounds of treatment spread out over 3–6 months. After these cycles are over, you will visit your doctor. There may be no need for further therapy if the cancer has been cured.
Is lung cancer treatable with chemotherapy?
Radiation and chemotherapy medications may be more effective at eliminating your cancerous cells. Some lung cancer patients may benefit from chemotherapy to keep their tumours smaller so that radiation can more effectively eliminate them. Also, it might prevent the spread of cancer cells after radiation treatment.
What is the cost of chemotherapy for lung cancer in India?
The average cost of chemotherapy for lung cancer in India is between ₹18,000 and ₹50,000.