Lung cancer

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Treatment of stage IIIA non–small cell lung cancer

The following are treatment options for stage IIIA non–small cell lung cancer. The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer.

Surgery

Surgery may be offered for stage IIIA non–small cell lung cancer. The types of surgery are:

  • pneumonectomy
  • extended pulmonary resection
  • lymph node dissection

Surgery may be delayed until after chemotherapy and radiation therapy have been used to shrink the tumour and reduce the amount of cancer in the lymph nodes.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be offered for stage IIIA non–small cell lung cancer:

  • before surgery, sometimes with radiation therapy, to make it easier to completely remove the cancer
  • after surgery, sometimes with radiation therapy, to reduce the risk of cancer recurring (adjuvant therapy)
  • if the person cannot have surgery or radiation therapy because of poor lung function or other medical problems
  • if the tumour cannot be removed with surgery

The most common chemotherapy combinations used for stage IIIA non–small cell lung cancer use cisplatin (Platinol AQ) and another drug:

  • cisplatin and etoposide (Vepesid)
    • This combination is most often given at the same time as radiation therapy (concurrent).
  • cisplatin and vinorelbine (Navelbine)
    • This combination may be given with concurrent radiation therapy.

If a person cannot take cisplatin, a related drug called carboplatin (Paraplatin, Paraplatin AQ) may be used with the above drugs.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy may be offered for stage IIIA non–small cell lung cancer:

  • before surgery, sometimes with chemotherapy, to make it easier to completely remove the cancer
  • after surgery, sometimes with chemotherapy, if the cancer was not completely removed
  • if the person cannot have surgery or chemotherapy because of poor lung function or other medical problems
  • if the tumour cannot be removed with surgery

The type of radiation therapy used is external beam radiation therapy. Higher doses of radiation therapy may be more effective, but they can cause more side effects, especially if radiation therapy is given at the same time as chemotherapy.

Clinical trials

People with non–small cell lung cancer may be offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. For more information, go to clinical trials.

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