Lung Cancer Treatment in Los Angeles, CA
Treatment for Lung Cancer at UCLA
Lung Cancer Treatment
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Lung cancer treatment depends on several factors, including the type and size of the cancer, its location and your overall health. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the primary tools for treating lung cancer and may be used alone or in combination.
- Non-small cell lung cancer may be treated with radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy.
- Small cell lung cancer is usually treated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
A team of doctors will help you decide on the best treatment for you. This team may include a radiation oncologist, a medical oncologist and a surgeon.
Understanding Radiation Therapy
- Radiation therapy, sometimes called radiotherapy, is the careful use of radiation to safely and effectively treat cancer.
- Cancer doctors, called radiation oncologists, use radiation therapy to try to cure cancer, to control cancer growth or to relieve symptoms, such as pain.
- Radiation therapy works within cancer cells by damaging their ability to multiply. When these cells die, the body naturally eliminates them.
- Healthy cells are also affected by radiation, but they are able to repair themselves in a way cancer cells cannot.
External Beam Radiation Therapy
External beam radiation therapy targets your lung cancer. Radiation is given in a series of daily treatments, Monday through Friday. Treatments are painless and last less than 30 minutes.
- Conventional radiation therapy uses multiple radiation fi elds to target the cancer and keep radiation from healthy cells.
- 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) combines multiple radiation treatment fields to deliver precise doses of radiation to the lung tumor. Tailoring each of the radiation beams to focus on the tumor targets the cancer while protecting nearby healthy tissue.
- Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a form of 3D-CRT that modifies the radiation by varying the intensity of each radiation beam. IMRT is still being studied for lung cancer.
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is a specialized form of 3D-CRT that delivers high doses of radiation over a period of five to eight days. It is currently being evaluated for the treatment of lung cancer. This type of treatment is available at only a few centers around the country.
- Internal radiation or brachytherapy is the placement of radioactive material into or near your tumor.
- Before treatment, a bronchoscopy will be done to place one or two thin plastic tubes into your nose and into the airways of the lung.
- The tube or tubes are then connected to a brachytherapy machine. The tube serves as a channel to deliver a dose of radiation by briefly placing a tiny radioactive source near the lung tumor.
- After the treatment, the tubes are removed. They may be placed again if you need more treatment.
Possible Side Effects
- Side effects are different for everyone. Some patients feel fine during treatment while others may feel uncomfortable.
- Possible problems may include skin irritation, difficulty or pain when swallowing, and fatigue.
- Lung radiation may cause shortness of breath. This may be temporary or permanent depending on your cancer and its treatment.
- With radiation therapy to the chest, you should not lose the hair on your head or have an upset stomach. Chest radiation will not affect your ability to have children.
- Talk to your doctor about any discomfort you feel. He or she can provide treatments to help.
- Everyone responds differently to the stress of cancer and treatment. Doctors, nurses, social workers and support groups are available to help.
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