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Chemotherapy Lung Cancer - Chemotherapy Treatments for Lung Cancer - Chemotherapy for Different Types of Lung Cancer, Lung Cancer Chemotherapy Regimens

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Close to 1.5 million people die every year from lung cancer. While this terrible disease can sometimes be avoided with measures like quitting smoking and avoiding second hand smoke, both smokers and non-smokers remain susceptible to the disease. There are two major types of lung cancer. The first, non small cell lung carcinoma (commonly abbreviated NSCLC), is the most common. Accounting for about 80% of lung cancer cases, NSCLC is a broad category that includes several kinds of lung cancers that begin in the lung itself. The second major type of lung cancer, small cell lung carcinoma (commonly abbreviated SCLC), is a type of cancer that starts in the smaller cells in the airways (bronchi). This type of lung cancer accounts for about 17% of lung cancer cases. Both NSCLC and SCLC, along with several other rare types of lung cancer, are most commonly treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Lung cancer chemotherapy options differ based on the type and progression of the cancer. While survival rates vary depending on many factors, recent studies have shown that chemotherapy and radiation treatments significantly increase the survival rate in most types and stages of lung cancer.

Chemotherapy for Different Types of Lung Cancer

Chemotherapy treatments of NSCLC usually follow some kind of surgical procedure (unless the cancer has advanced to a stage where the cancerous tumors are too large to safely operate). After the surgery, tissue sample from the lymph nodes and lungs can help determine how far the cancer has advanced. If the cancer reaches the lymph nodes, then the disease is classified as stage 2 or 3 lung cancer. In such a case, adjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy that follows surgery) is usually advised, because it has been shown to increase the survival rate by about 15%. Recently, however, it has also become more common to treat earlier stages of NSCLC with chemotherapy regardless of whether it is preceded by surgery. While this practice remains somewhat controversial, the initial results from this practice seem to be positive. Because of the location of the cancer cells in the brochi, surgery is much less common and much more risky for SCLC. Therefore, nearly all stages of this type of lung cancer are treated with chemotherapy. Like NSCLC, the most common types of chemotherapy treatments for SCLC platinum compounds such as cisplatin (Platinol) or carboplatin (Paraplatin). The other rare forms of lung cancer are typically met with similar chemotherapy treatments.

Lung Cancer Chemotherapy Regimens

Chemotherapy regimens for lung cancer depend on many factors. The type of cancer, the extent of its progression, the placement of the tumors, and the age and health of the patient, along with many other factors, all contribute to the treatment options. Chemotherapy cycles can usually defined as monthly treatments (though sometimes these can refer to weekly or bi-weekly treatment as well). Though in years past doctors tended to default toward 6 chemotherapy cycles before taking a 3 to 6 month break, recent studies may indicate that 3 to 4 cycles followed by a break could be just as effective. With so many factors contributing to the treatments options, however, it is impossible to determine the best course of action until the patient has undergone a thorough examination by a doctor, or in many cases, a team of doctors.

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