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Understanding Treatment Options

If You Smoke

If you (or a loved one) have been diagnosed with lung cancer and smoke, it’s important to know that continuing to smoke can, among other things, interfere with the way treatments work and make side effects worse. Click here to find out more.

There was a time when lung cancer treatment was based only on the type (small cell or non-small cell) and stage of lung cancer. As more is learned about lung cancer, treatment options depend on not just the type, but also the subtype, and in some cases, if mutations are present, the cancer cells themselves.

Options also depend on other factors including age, general health, and medical history. Your healthcare team will make recommendations about your treatment options based on full information about your lung cancer as well as what recommendations have been agreed upon by lung cancer experts.

Not all treatments will be right for every person. But learning about possible treatment options may help you have an informed discussion with your doctor. The following are common treatment options used alone or combined to treat lung cancer:


Targeted therapies
Maintenance therapies
Clinical trials
Ablation therapies
Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

Palliative Care
Hospice Care
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Your treatment decision can depend on your own goals and expectations. Even when your treatment team makes their recommendations, it is important to get information about how the treatment(s) they suggest may affect you. Talk with your doctor about the potential risks (such as side effects) and benefits of a given treatment, how to manage those risks, and what alternative treatment options might be available.