November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and our blog has been focused on different questions related to this deadly disease. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer, but it is the most deadly as it will kill approximately 155,000 people this year. Today we will be discussing the different types of lung cancer and treatment options available for those who have already been diagnosed. Cancer treatment plans should be agreed upon by both the doctor and the patient. According to the Mayo Clinic, treatment plans are affected by some key factors, including:
- Type and stage of cancer
- Overall health
- Personal preferences of the patient
Types of Lung Cancer
There are three types of lung cancer: 1) Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), 2) Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC), and 3) Lung Carcinoid Tumor. SCLC, in which the cells are small and round, and NSCLC in which the cancer cells are larger are the most common. Sometimes a cancer has features of both types and is called mixed small cell/large cell cancer.
Non-small Cell Lung Cancer accounts for almost 80% of lung cancers. Small Cell Lung Cancer accounts for almost 20% of all lung cancers. Although the cancer cells are small, they can multiply quickly and form large tumors. The tumors can spread to the lymph nodes and to other organs. The stage of the cancer is determined by its location in the body and whether or not it has spread.
Lung Carcinoid Tumor, the third type, is very rare and grows slowly in comparison to the other types. According to the American Cancer Society, these tumors are made of neuroendocrine cells, which can help control air flow and blood flow in the lungs. However, if these cells are damaged, they can form tumors.
Lung Cancer Treatment Options
Treatment options for lung cancer patients may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted drug therapy. Patients can also reach out and apply to medical centers offering clinical trials. In addition, immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment option (approved by the FDA in 2015). Ultimately, any treatment options should be discussed at length with a medical expert.