Lung Cancer (non-small cell) Overview

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Treating Lung Cancer - Non-Small Cell TOPICS

How is non-small cell lung cancer treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

Choosing a treatment plan for non-small cell lung cancer

If you have lung cancer, your treatment choices may include:

Palliative treatments are also sometimes helpful.

More than one kind of treatment may be used, depending on the stage of your cancer and other factors.

You may have different types of doctors on your treatment team, depending on the stage of your cancer and your treatment options. These doctors may include:

  • A thoracic surgeon: a doctor who treats diseases of the lungs and chest with surgery.
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy.
  • A pulmonologist: a doctor who treats diseases of the lungs.

Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, and other health professionals.

Be sure to discuss all of your treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your doctors so you can decide which option is best for you. (See the section “What are some questions I can ask my doctor about non-small cell lung cancer?”)

Important factors to think about include the stage of the cancer, your overall health, the likely side effects of the treatment, and the chance of curing the disease, extending life, or relieving symptoms. Be sure you understand the risks and side effects of the treatment options before making a decision.

If time allows, it is often a good idea to get a second opinion. This can give you more information and help you feel more confident about the treatment plan you choose.

Last Medical Review: 08/18/2014
Last Revised: 03/04/2015